E y e s   o n  t h e   F o r e s t
A   M o n t h l y   B u l l e t i n   f r o m   B o r n e o  -  M a r c h  2 0 1 2

eyes in the forest



Creating Play Time for Orangutans is Hard Work for OFI's Volunteers & Staff


Seven months ago, 18 rambunctious, juvenile orangutans from one of OFI's Care Center facilities discovered one of youth's greatest pleasures: rough-and-tumble play among the swings, ropes and climbing apparatus of a newly-built jungle gym.


Once limited to romps within the low-growing trees in a small section of OFI's Care Center rehabilitation forest, these young orangutans now have a new venue for playing and for practicing the

Mara McCafferery
Mara McCafferey

skills they'll need to survive in the wild thanks to Mara McCafferey, an ardent OFI supporter with a big heart and an unstoppable drive.


'Play' is a cute word for a critical developmental stage in wild mammals. It provides animal youngsters with opportunities to practice skills required to survive as adults while still under the watchful eye of their mothers and within the safety of their social units. For young orangutans, much needs to be learned: How to search for hidden fruit, build sleeping nests, move long distances through the trees, and avoid predators. Climbing, in particular, is a critical component of their tree-dwelling lifestyle.


A life-changing encounter with an extraordinary orangutan named Gistock in Borneo's Tanjung Puting National Park in 1996, followed by a personal invitation from Dr. Galdikas to volunteer for OFI in 2008, inspired Mara to establish Orangutan Aid, a grassroots charity in Hong Kong with a mission to raise awareness and funds for orangutans in Borneo. With funds in hand and a zest for getting things done, Mara consulted with Dr. Galdikas and OFI's release co-ordinator Pak Sehat, and in 2011 set out to build, along side a crew of local carpenters, a new jungle gym for the residents of one of the Care Center's facilities. Like previous jungle gyms built for large infants in other sections of the Care Center, most of the work was done "in-house" by local assistants and volunteers.


Wood was measured and
Pak Sehat, playground engineer
Pak Sehat, OFI's Head Release Coordinator and Carpenter Extraordinaire
sawed, nails were bought by the kilograms, and metal roof sheets were unrolled. Pak Sehat calculated numbers of U-bolts and washers needed to secure meters upon meters of sturdy rope, while Mara scoured the Care Center grounds for old but still useful motorbike tires. Extra-keen Construction Team Volunteers helped carry heavy planks and remove stubborn tree roots.


Today, the well-equipped playground is a centerpiece of daily release for a number of orangutans . The staff alternate between taking them into the forest and to the jungle gym, allowing the small trees more time to recover from the young apes' exuberant play. The roofed jungle gym provides shelter from the pouring rain and hot sun, and the challenging apparatus can be used by many orangutans at one time, allowing more orangutans to be taken out by their caregivers more frequently.


Daily release at the new playground
Orangutans at play!

Thanks to the vigorous effort and initiative of Mara McCafferey, Pak Sehat, OFI's volunteers and many dedicated caregivers as well as the generous donors who actually paid for the land, young orangutans who once suffered at the hands of humans now have a second chance at freedom - as stronger, more coordinated and confident swingers and climbers of the jungle.


Janie Dubman, Newsletter editor

Janie Dubman

Newsletter Editor




Special note: Orangutan Aid raises funds on an ongoing basis, and currently has two main projects to which funds are allocated: OFI's Orangutan Care Center and its  Rawa Kuno Legacy Forest Fund 


 In this Issue

  • Orangutan of the Month: Steppenwolf
  • Jungle Corner: Long-nosed Horned Frog 
  • Conservation Partners: Zoo Boise & Cleveland Zoological Society
  • Bats Make Homes in Pitcher Plants! 
  • Fundraise for OFI



 Orangutan   of the Month:Baby Steppenwolf



Milk, friends, and dirt showers are helping this endearing orphan regain his innocence and his wildness 


Bat in pitcher plant

Want to help fundraise for OFI without leaving home?
With a few simple clicks of your computer mouse you can quickly create your very own "FirstGiving" fundraising webpage linked to our online campaign called, "Helping Orangutans Return to the Wild!"  It's super easy....and oh so rewarding!
CLICK HERE to take you to our FirstGiving campaignBe sure to click JOIN NOW at the top of the webpage to get started.

All donations made by your friends will show up on your webpage, and will be added to OFI's $100,000 campaign goal. "FirstGiving" will handle all of the money and will send an email to your donors (and you) acknowledging their donations.


Thanks for helping us make a difference!


Need help?  

Contact Hollis at

[email protected]




Jungle Corner
Long-nosed Horned Frog, Large Horned Frog, Malayan Horned Frog

Megophrys nasutaer   


Distribution: Borneo, Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, southern Thailand, Sumatra


Taxonomy: Animalia, Chordata, Amphibia Anura, Megophryidae


Ecology: Typically feed on spiders, small rodents, lizards and other frogs. This frog's call is a loud, resonating, metallic "honk."


Habitat: Lives in permanently damp and cool lowland and sub-montane rainforests among leaf litter.


Morphology: This is a large frog, ranging from 100-120 mm in length. It camouflages very well with the forest floor because of the changing colors on its back. The frog's upper eyelids and snout are drawn out into long triangular projections, forming what looks like "horns", thus giving them their common name.


Interesting Facts: By changing its color, the Long-nosed Horned Frog mimics the color of leaves on the forest floor. Its sharply pointed 'horns' above each eye help reinforce this camouflage. This allows the frog to lie still on the forest floor waiting for unsuspecting prey to pass by, which it then catches and eats.



Conservation Partners 


OFI is pleased to announce two new partnerships with US-based organizations, each aimed specifically at strengthening OFI's orangutan conservation programs in Borneo.


OFI's "Holistic Environmental Enrichment Program" Gets a Big Boost from Zoo Boise!


A $30,000 grant from the Zoo Boise Conservation Fund is helping orangutans return to Zoo Boise Conservation Fund the wild.  Work is currently underway at OFI's Care Center and Quarantine facility in Pasir Panjang to expand and enhance orangutan sleeping enclosures, purchase a variety of enrichment materials and supplies, replant areas of OFI's 'enrichment forest', and support and train staff and volunteers. The beneficiaries of Zoo Boise's generosity? OFI's 330 orangutans who will grow up big and strong and smart--ensuring their successful return to the rainforest, wild and free once again.  Great news!


Cleveland Zoological Society Equips OFI's Forest Patrols


The Cleveland Zoological Society and Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Asia Seed Grant Program recently awarded a $2,540 grant to OFI to purchase much-needed field Cleveland Zoological Society equipment (headlamps, digital cameras, bicycles, a GPS tracking unit, and more) to support OFI's ongoing forest patrol program known as "SOS Habitat" (that stands for Saving Orangutans by Safeguarding their Habitat).  Grant support will help OFI deter, detect and halt illegal resource extraction operators and wildlife poachers; prevent and fight forest fires; monitor the health of the forest ecosystem; and provide evidence to law enforcement partners to prosecute offenders and shut down illegal logging, mining, poaching and wildlife trade operations. 


Many thanks to our new partners!


For more information on ways your organization or business can partner with OFI, please contact Hollis Burbank-Hammarlund, Development Director, at [email protected]



Thank you very much for  following "Eyes on the Forest - Bulletin from Borneo". From now on you can expect this eNewsletter to reach your mailbox monthly.  We'd love to have your thoughts, comments or submissions ([email protected]). In the meanwhile, please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and our official website: www.orangutan.org   
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