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Orangutan Forest School

Borneo's orangutans need our help

Rainforest has been destroyed on a massive scale in Borneo over the last four decades. Thousands of orangutans have become victims of the palm oil, tropical timber and coal industries.


Every year, between two and three thousand orangutans are killed, often targeted for bounty, because they are considered harvest thieves in oil palm plantations. Traders illegally sell helpless orphans whose mothers were deliberately killed, as pets. The Bornean orangutans are among the critically endangered species.

Baby orangutan Gonda was found by farmers, crying next to his lifeless mother. She may have been killed by poachers who were trying to steal Gonda for the illegal pet trade. Or perhaps she died as a result of the brutal destruction of her forest in Borneo for mining and palm oil plantations.


A mother orangutan spends years caring for and nurturing her baby with love and patience, just like human mums do. The loss of a mother is extremely traumatising and difficult on their children.


Thankfully, Gonda eventually made it to safety. He is now with FOUR PAWS, but he is in desperate need of care.


In response to this animal welfare issue, FOUR PAWS, together with its local partner Jejak Pulang and the Indonesian government, has been working on setting up a new rehabilitation project for orangutans in Borneo, known as FOUR PAWS ORANGUTAN FOREST SCHOOL.


At FOREST SCHOOL, orphans like Gonda would be taught how to identify and locate food, find or make shelter, recognise danger, and socialise with other orangutans. He would learn all the skills his mother would have taught him if she were still alive; skills that could help him survive in the wild.



 At FOUR PAWS FOREST SCHOOL, our caregivers will rehabilitate the babies by closely mimicking how their mother would have raised them. For example, orangutans can identify around 4,000 items as edible. In the mothers’ absence, the caregivers show the babies what is safe or dangerous to eat, and where to find food and how to extract it.


When each orangutan is ready, he or she will be released back into their natural habitat, high in the treetops. Still under constructions, the FOREST SCHOOL will be built on 100 hectares of forest land. Already, we have seven heartbroken orphans in need of it, including Gonda. The next development stage of the project includes:


  •  A Treehouse - Treehouses encourage orangutans to live in the trees, as they naturally would and is essential for their safety and survival.


  • Treetop walkways and platforms - These enable the caregivers to get off the ground, encouraging the orangutans to follow. Orangutans learn by example, so these walkways allow the caregivers to stay close to the orangutans and provide them comfort and guidance in their home environment.


  • Security systems – For the safety of orangutans and staff. The forests we work in are vulnerable to habitat loss, human encroachment and poaching.


  • Enclosures - Added security for the younger orangutans who can’t stay in the forest alone, or for those who like to wander!


Will you please help FOUR PAWS build the Forest School? Your donation will help give orphaned orangutans like Gonda the best chance of living in the wild again.


Orphan Gonda with his caregiver
© FOUR PAWS | James Mepham