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  -  J u l y  2 0 1 2

eyes in the forest


OFI's Rescue Team and Veterinarians
 Give Hope to Orangutan Victims of 

The Palm Oil Industry


His name is Korban. It means "victim" in the Indonesian language. He is an older cheekpadded orangutan who should be able to live out his twilight years in the ancient forests of his ancestors. Instead, like so many members of his species, he has been caught in the violent crossfire between palm oil development and shrinking forest habitat. Korban was brought to OFI's Orangutan Care Center and Quarantine (OCCQ) in Pasir Panjang recently with severe injuries that required immediate medical attention in order to save his life. This is his story.


Korban's troubles began when he wandered into a palm oil plantation where he was subsequently attacked and captured by workers. While the full story of what followed is not completely clear, it is widely known that on many plantations in Indonesia orangutans are considered agricultural pests and are beaten, burned, shot or killed. Those that survive are often held illegally in unthinkable conditions, chained to trees, locked in small sheds or boxes, left to starve or die from injuries sustained from their brutal encounter with humans. Some, like Korban, are rescued by OFI and given a second chance.


OFI's staff veterinarian, Dr. Popowati, checks vital signs of sedated orangutan during rescue.

The local forestry department was called after Korban was captured. His condition was so bad that they decided not to translocate him. The goal of translocation is to capture and release an animal back into the wild, with minimal handling and in as short a period of time as possible. OFI always participates in these operations. Our veterinarians, Dr. Popowati and Dr. Prima, administer medical expertise in the field, evaluating the orangutan's

OFI Rescue Team
OFI Rescue Team transports sedated orangutan.

overall physical condition, taking blood and other samples, and inserting a microchip for future identification. Our trained Rescue Team Assistants provide essential skill and sensitivity in safely handling strong orangutans under difficult field conditions.    



For Korban, what began as a translocation effort quickly turned into a life-saving mission when OFI's Rescue Team discovered that he is completely blind and thus unable to survive in the wild. The cause of his blindness became

Korban's face
Korban's blindness caused by severe beating.

evident: Repeated blows to his head during his initial capture by plantation workers had caused one of his eyes to pop out and burst; the other eye was still in his head but was also blind.


Today, Korban is recovering from his injuries at OFI's quarantine facility. His stress levels and fear have calmed and he is adapting well to his new situation. He responds to the sounds of people (by moving towards them) who give him branches for browse and nest building. His caregivers have developed a communication technique during feeding time, whereby they tap lightly on the bars of his enclosure to signal the location of his food and water. He is now sitting up and lacerations on his back are healing.

Korban's back
Korban's wounds are healing.


Sadly, Korban's story is a replay of a familiar tune with a few altered notes. Three months ago, Luthi, a wild adult female captured on another palm oil plantation, was rescued and brought to the OCCQ after an extended time spent chained by her wrists. The skin, flesh, and tendons on her wrists had been rubbed away to the bone, and open wounds on her head, shoulders, and hips (from repeated beatings) were the suspected cause of her blindness and deafness. She had endured indescribable pain and suffering at the hands of humans. After bravely battling her injuries in our Care Center for more than a month, surrounded by OFI staff and volunteers who rotated in 12-hour bedside shifts, day and night, Luthi passed away. 


For Korban, the future looks more hopeful in that he may survive. Unfortunately, as long as he is blind, OFI will not be able to return this former victim of callous human ignorance to a protected forest where he can safely live out his life as a wild and free orangutan once again.


Every step of humanitarian effort provided by OFI--from rescue and confiscation, to transportation, housing, feeding, veterinary care, and, in the best cases, release back to the wild and subsequent monitoring--requires tremendous resources and people power. We thank you for making it possible to give Korban and others like him a second chance.


Janie Dubman    



Click here to support OFI's orangutan conservation work, including the rescue and care of orangutans like Korban and Luthi.


 In this Issue

  • Orangutan of the Month: Charlie
  • Upcoming OFI Events: 'Run for Survival' Road Race
  • News from the Field: A Day in the Forest at Camp Rendell
  • Jungle Corner: Moonrat 
  • Conservation Partners: Disney Safeguards Rawa Kuno Legacy Forest
  • Stories from Camp Leakey



Orangutan of the Month: Charlie  

A Bornean Agile Gibbon at Camp Leakey
Meet Charlie...the big-eyed favorite of the Orangutan Care Center and Quarantine with a fondness for water and an adventurous spirit!
5K Road Race
OFI's Awareness-Raising/
Fundraising Event
September 16, 2012
Woodley Park
Van Nuys, CA


Train for our 5K by joining the 6-Week Full of Life Fitness Training Program 

Designed for our race!

 2011 Race Starter

Run with us this year!




Two red insects



News from the Field 

Click here to join the orangutans and staff of OFI's Camp Rendell for a day in the forest.


Jungle Corner


Echinosorex gymnura/Echinosorex alba  


Taxonomy: Animalia; Chordata; Mammalia; Eulipotyphia; Erinaceidae


Threat Status: Least Concern (on the IUCN Red List) Moonrat  


Distribution: Borneo, Brunei, Peninsular Malaysia, Myanmar, Sumatra, Thailand   


Ecology: As its name implies, the moonrat is nocturnal. It spends most of its days lying under logs or roots or in abandoned burrows. An omnivore, the moonrat generally eats worms, insects, and crabs but has also been known to eat fruit, frogs, and fish.   


Habitat: Primarily found in lowland forests, including moist areas, such as mangrove and swamp forests.   


Morphology: Although it looks predominantly white from a distance, the moonrat typically has a sparse scattering of black hairs. The moonrat is a small mammal, weighing less than 1kg (2.2lbs).   


Interesting Fact: Adult moonrats generally live alone. They release an odor, which has a strong ammonia content, to mark the edges of their territory. This odor helps scare other moonrats away.


Conservation Partners   


Defending Rawa Kuno Against Destructive Intruders


A $5,000 emergency grant from the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund Rapid Disney Logo Response Grant Program is helping to prevent the destructive intrusion of zircon mining operations along the eastern border of OFI's 6,400-acre Rawa Kuno Legacy Forest. 


As reported in our June 2012 "Eyes on the Forest" bulletin, OFI is building a moat (canal), constructing three guard posts, purchasing a patrol boat and motorcycle, and dispatching Indonesian Mobile Police Brigades to protect the biological integrity of Rawa Kuno and the orangutans and other wildlife that depend on it for their survival. Many thanks to Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund for their kind support!


For more information on ways your business or organization can partner with OFI, please contact Hollis Burbank-Hammarlund, Development Director, at OFInewengland@gmail.com



Camp Leakey Orangutans 

 Orangutans at Camp Leakey

 Some Camp Leakey Characters Amuse Visitors. 

Click here to read more.

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 (ofioffice@gmail.com). In the meanwhile, please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and our official website: www.orangutan.org   
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