Featured Sanctuary

Great Ape sanctuaries may be the lifeboats of survival as wilds disappear

Yayasan IAR - West Kalimantan

The Yayasan IAR orang-utan center in Ketapang West Kalimantan is a lifeboat like no other.

Tucked quietly down a dirt road in second growth rainforest, the Center is a lifeline to a sinking ark in southwestern Borneo, and may be one of the key differences ensuring Bornean orang-utans in West Kalimantan survive into the next years, the next decades, and beyond.

Orang-utans in captivity is the last thing most sanctuary directors like Dr. Sanchez what or wish for. Every orphan or rescued orang-utan that winds up in the Center requires hundreds of hours of staff time, thousands of dollars in veterinarian care and feeding, and months or years of rehabilitation before a hope of release. That all assumes a wild location for release can be located. More than a mere orang-utan sanctuary, Yayasan IAR works diligently in West Kalimantan with national parks officials, local villagers in community forests, and most impressively, with local palm oil plantations, to secure corridors of forest remain for release opportunities. As Dr. Sanchez says, “the best solution is not to have to save these guys.” To do that Yayasan IAR works as diligently behind the scenes with unlikely land owning partners to protect orang-utan habitat. An effort often out of the public eye, and difficult to get the global community to support with funding. The reality is baby orphaned orang-utans may tear at our hearts and wallets, but they don’t save rainforests. Without those forests wild orang-utans are doomed.

Pressure on the Center’s coping capabilities was stretched to near breaking in late 2015 as fires raged across the region. Illegally set fires were burning out of control across cleared rainforest and peatlands. Many of those scorched lands resulted in trapping orang-utans in isolated patches of trees or charred scrub, or worse, burning orang-utans alive. For staff from Yayasan IAR to save the growing number of animals put enormous pressure on staff and resources. Not saving orang-utans was never an option.

About Yayasan IAR

In Pictures — Life behind the scenes in Yayasan IAR

orangutan rescue IAR Borneo 

BORNEO — Orang-utan Rescue

Witnessing the chaos the peatland fires caused the month before (October 2015) I felt it was critical to returned to...
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orangutan peatland fire Borneo 

BORNEO — Surviving on a burnt landscape

In mid-November 2015 I journeyed over an hour east of Ketapang, West Kalimantan with IAR orang-utan rescue staff to search for...
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orphan orangutans Yayasan IAR 1260499 

BORNEO — Orangutan Orphanage Overflowing

Yayasan International Animal Rescue (IAR) orangutan rescue center in Ketapang West Kalimantan Borneo Indonesia runs a fight against all odds....
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