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"Karaba is a unique orangutan with her own distinctive expressions and mannerisms. Orangutan facial expressions give hints as to their emotions at a given time. For example, playful infants will sometimes stretch open their mouths, almost like a yawn, just before playing a trick on a staff member or another orangutan. When Karaba drops her mouth wide open, it indicates instead a state of deep concentration. At these times, she will relax the area of her mouth, allowing it to be slightly open, with her bottom lip falling downwards.

Karaba's capacity for sustained concentration contributes to a high level of sensitivity to her environment. While traveling at a furious pace and crunching leaves, she suddenly stops. Silent and completely still, only her eyes move, slowly scanning her surroundings. She has a highly-attuned attention to detail, whether picking at her hair and grooming herself, or making attempts to groom anyone else in her vicinity. She seems fascinated by nails and the cuticles that surround them. Comfortably perched, she studies her own hands for long moments, probing the ridged texture of her fingernails.

Karaba maintains a similar focus with enrichment activities. The orangutans at OFI's Care Center are given specially designed packets made of leaves or woven rattan containing peanuts and other treats. Once the treats have been successfully extracted, most orangutans lose interest in the items. But long after her peers' attention has subsided, Karaba can be seen peeling, snapping, poking, and arranging the enrichment materials time and time again to create new piles and formations. She also likes to collect ferns. She gathers them together, ensuring that all ends are lined up in an orderly bunch, much like a bouquet of flowers..."

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We are currently looking for enthusiastic, creative and independent individuals with excellent English language writing skills and experience behind the camera for our Communications Volunteer Program. You will help the thousands of orangutans we fight to protect and translate OFI's work to the global community. This is a long term (six month) commitment in Central Borneo, Indonesia.

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We need you! 

OFI is a 501(c)3 charity that relies on our supporters to continue important work protecting wild orangutan populations, rain forests, and wildlife in Indonesia.

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Our sincerest thanks for being a reader of OFI's Eyes on the Forest newsletter.

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You can find out more about OFI & our work at our website: 

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APRIL 2017

by John Harper
Deep in the jungle, Camp Rendell is a place like no other, a haven ready to capture hearts and open minds to the beauty of the rainforest, the Dayak people, and the great apes who reside therein.

To keep the orangutans close together on release, each caregiver carries one on his back. When orangutans get too heavy, staff lead them by the hand. In order to protect the trees around the camp, ropes are loosely tied around the upper arms of the orangutans until they reach their destination.

Camp Rendell was officially inaugurated in 2011 thanks to funds from very special donor friends of Dr. Galdikas, Mr. and Mrs. Rendell from New Zealand. The camp was built in the Pasir Panjang Village forest to provide additional space for daily release of a group of about 20 orangutans. The camp has been home to approximately 8 - 10 staff members and a rotating cast of orangutans over the past six years. As some of the original orangutans have been released back into the wild, younger orangutans have been moved in, taking their own next steps toward release.
Situated away from the local town, the camp is accessible only by motorbike or truck. Pulling up into the camp is like finding a hidden secret opening out from a dense jungle forest. With limited visitors, Camp Rendell is a peaceful place for orangutans and staff alike. Although there is a set routine -cleaning, daily release, feeding, tending to the vegetable patches- each day proves unique with the endless diversity of wildlife, experiences, and sounds in the forest.

Camp Rendell is too special not to share with the world, so to give you a bit of a taste for paradise, shade your mind from your current surroundings and bask here, in a day in the life.

Waking up from a deep, peaceful sleep, the sun bathes the main Rendell building with light from the doorways and plentiful windows. A chorus of birds harmonizes with the gibbons in the distance as they wake in the trees and celebrate the coming of a new dawn. One by one the staff rouse themselves to meet the day. They stoke the fire to prepare breakfast, and take cold but refreshing showers. They call out the names of the orangutans, who are separated from the camp by a layer of trees about 100 meters away, to let them know that staff is awake and breakfast is coming. The trees are laden with fruit. From beyond the trees, some movement begins, along with a few lethargic grunts. Flashes of orange pass between the branches, and a curious eye appears here and there. The orangutans at Rendell are ready to start their day.

Once the staff have enjoyed a quick breakfast and dressed into their uniforms, the lip smackings and kissing sounds of the orangutans begin as they anticipate their breakfast. The staff faithfully bring fruit by the wheelbarrow to their orange friends, giving plentiful amounts to all, topping off the meal with buckets full of water to drink.

After breakfast there is usually a short interval during which staff play with the orangutans, sing to them and joke with one another, as they prepare for daily release into the Learning Forest. Water bottles are filled, waterproof cases stowed, and minds readied for the adventures to come. As forest school begins, one of the staff members stays behind to tend to the gardens and watch over the remaining orangutans. The staff grow a variety of food for themselves here, benefiting from the generous land that provides peace, shelter and sustenance to all who live here.


Enon came to OFI as a young female orangutan after years of captivity. Orangutan Foundation International (OFI) worked hard to rehabilitate her. In 2014 we finally released Enon into the deep forests of Tanjung Puting National Park where we thought she would live out the rest of her life safe from human attacks. But we were wrong.

In February, at one of OFI's feeding platforms, Enon was sighted with her infant Ernie, exhibiting high levels of distress. Ernie had been catastrophically wounded. A straight and very deep cut had been made in his side. One of our veterinarians was immediately called to the site to give emergency medical care. When the OFI veterinarian arrived, Ernie's intestines were protruding outside his body through the cut.

Given the severity of Ernie's wound, it is a little bit of a miracle that we were able to give him back his life. One day Ernie may grow into a large, long-calling cheek padded male with offspring of his own. None of this would be possible without OFI's Orangutan Care Center. OFI's dedicated staff and our up-to-date medical facilities saved Ernie's life. Currently, OFI staff are providing medical treatment, rehabilitation, and reintegration care for 320 orangutans, including 22 tiny infant-orphans whose mothers have been killed.

OFI's Orangutan Care Center costs up to $1.2 million a year to maintain. That includes the salaries of the 140 people who work there, daily food for the orangutans, the orangutan rescue and release teams, medical equipment, construction of enclosures, daily enrichment activities, as well as local outreach teams to help educate people on how precious orangutans are to Indonesia and to the world.

Please consider giving as much as you can to help us provide year-round care to the hundreds of orangutans who depend on that care for their very survival and ultimately, their return home to the forest. 

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