Guarding the Forest
Step by Step, OFI Forest Rangers
Keep Orangutans Safe
Mr. Dimun at the OFI Care Center.
For more than a decade, Mr. Dimun has measured time by the hundreds of miles he has walked along remote forest trails in pursuit of an important conservation mission. At 30-years-old, he has shouldered a heavy burden since joining OFI's staff in 2000, helping to protect and defend more than one million acres of ancient orangutan habitat against the onslaught of modern-day 'progress' in order to save orangutans from extinction.
Much of Mr. Dimun's time over the past twelve years has been spent deep within Tanjung Puting National Park (TPNP). TPNP is one of the two largest habitats for wild orangutan populations left in the world. Proclaimed a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1981, TPNP was granted National Park status in 1982. Tanjung Puting represents the last remaining self-sustaining coastal peat swamp ecosystem in the region. It provides the opportunity for many wildlife species to thrive and coexist, among them 18 Vulnerable Species and 10 Critical and Endangered Species, including 6,000 endangered Bornean orangutans.
Yet despite its status as a protected national park, TPNP's wildlife face new dangers every day. Corporations are rapidly destroying rain forests to create palm oil plantations, and OFI expects tens of thousands of acres of new palm oil concessions to be granted next to and even within the embedded villages of the Park. This means more human-orangutan conflicts, including incursions, fires, and poaching activity by plantation workers and the men plantations employ as 'pest-killers' -- orangutans often considered one of those pests.
The cruel and illegal pet trade industry is thriving, too. Illegal roadways built in and around the Park by loggers and miners, and as a result of palm oil encroachment, increase the risk of illegal animal trafficking by providing access into remote habitat areas where orangutans can be easily poached. Strip mining for gold, zircon, and sand is on the increase around the borders of the Park. Without constant vigilance, mining operations will enter the park in a matter of days.
But despite these odds, the vast, ancient forests of TPNP are still largely intact, in part because of Mr. Dimun and a team of OFI forest rangers who, every day, detect, deter, thwart and halt illegal intruders. When 18-year-old Dimun first came to work for OFI twelve years ago, he didn't know he would one day be part of such a heroic mission. Fresh out of high school, he was simply looking for a job. Initially, he was placed as an orangutan caregiver at OFI's Orangutan Care Center in Pasir Panjang. In those formative years, he learned to understand the psychology and behavior of our great ape relatives.
In 2003, Mr. Dimun became an OFI forest ranger at Camp Simpang Kecil in TPNP. The job of a ranger runs on a rigorous schedule over difficult jungle terrain. After morning camp duties, Mr. Dimun and his partner would embark on hours-long walking patrols of their assigned territory, checking for signs of illicit activity, documenting forest and wildlife crimes, and helping to shut down illegal operations. In Camp Sungai Baung Dimon helped train less experienced rangers in their mapping duties. Relocation in 2006 took Mr. Dimun to Sungai Buluh Sekonyer where he helped fight the catastrophic peat fires set by illegal loggers that burned 60,000 hectares (148,200 acres) of primary rainforest.
Not all of the many years spent in the forest involved chasing 'the bad guys.' On his daily patrols, Mr. Dimun monitored the ecology of the forest, counting deer, pigs, snakes, frogs, birds, wild cats and, of course, orangutans. Despite the hard physical work, his favorite part of the job was walking through
OFI staff monitor the forest.
the forest and watching wild orangutans. He is happy to see them living free, building nests, foraging for food, and raising their young.
Today, Mr. Dimun is raising a family of his own, and once again caring for orangutans closer to home at OFI's Care Center. He is proud of his past accomplishments. In twelve years, nine camps, hundreds of miles, thousands of footsteps, and countless forest encounters--both good and bad--Mr. Dimun has helped to safeguard a valuable piece of our world.
OFI's dedicated team of forest rangers and their associates continue to protect Tanjung Puting National Park today, along with thousands of acres within the Rawa Kuno Legacy Forest, Pasir Panjung Village Forest, and other privately-stewarded forests throughout the region, keeping orangutans and other wildlife out of harm's way. Your continued support makes their job possible.