The project at a glance

To summarize the project in a fun way, we created a didactic card that summarizes the entire project.

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Orang-outan de Sumatra - Pairi Daiza

The “man of the forest” need of his forest!

“Orangutan” means “man of the forest” in Malay. And for good reason! Day and night, these primates spend most of their time in the trees. They also find their main source of food in the branches - fruit.

The Borneo orangutan is one of three species of orangutan for which the forests on the island of Borneo are the only habitat in the world.

Their population has decreased by more than 60% in 60 years! Critically endangered, there are now only 57,000* left.

*Utami-Atmoko, S. et al. (2017) Orangutan Population and Habitat Viability Assessment: Final Report. IUCN/SSC Conservation Breeding Specialist Group, Apple Valley, MN.

Orang-outan de Sumatra - Pairi Daiza

Why do they need our help?

Deforestation and poaching are the main threats to orangutans. In the south of the island of Borneo, their forest suffered a real disaster at the end of the 1990s, because of something called the “Mega Rice Project”. The objective? To replace the forest with rice crops in order to achieve food self-sufficiency. The result? A million hectares of forest (1/3 of the area of Belgium!) gone up in one smoke, 4,000 km of drainage channels installed to dry out the marshy soil...and not one grain of rice! The forest soil was in fact far too unsuitable for this crop. While the project was quickly abandoned, the forest still bears the scars: it is impossible for the native vegetation to return to these dried-out lands.

Orang-outan de Sumatra - Pairi Daiza

What is the Pairi Daiza Foundation doing?

Our goal: to restore the natural humidity of the soil (which was originally marshy peatland) and to replant the forest in this degraded region. How?

  • Replant 11,000 trees: sowing and growing in the nursery, preparation of the soil and planting in the forest: this is the programme that will be implemented using seeds from tree species that are local, resilient and appreciated by orangutans.
  • Build 5 dams: by blocking the artificial drainage channels, they will allow the water to return and nourish the land naturally.

Our partner in Borneo

The Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation will manage this project on site. This foundation has been committed to protecting orangutans in Borneo for some 30 years, and has four main objectives:

  • Preserve and rehabilitate their habitat
  • Gather endangered orangutans into a sanctuary
  • Reintroduce orangutans into their natural habitat
  • Raise awareness and involve local communities

Link to the BOSF website:

BOSF's website
Orang-outan de Sumatra - Pairi Daiza

A gesture for the orangutan, an impact on an entire ecosystem

Restoring the habitat of the Borneo orangutan is of course crucial for this species...but not just for this species! The marshy peat forest is a precious ecosystem:

  • With over 200 species of trees, 170 species of birds, 60 species of butterflies*...this environment is home to an incredible biodiversity!
  • Local communities are very closely linked to and dependent on the forest, which provides them with wood, water, fruit, medicinal plants or resins for their own consumption or for trade.
  • This type of forest can store up to 30 times more carbon than a tropical forest.
  • The moisture in the soil provides a real “buffer” which helps prevent flooding in the rainy season and droughts during the dry season: an ally that we can’t do without when faced with global warming, which is making extreme weather conditions more frequent!

*S.J. Husson et al. Biodiversity of the Sebangau peat swamp forest, Indonesian Borneo. Mires and Peat, Volume 22 (2018), Article 05, 1–50,, ISSN 1819-754X © 2018 International Mire Conservation Group and International Peatland Society, DOI: 10.19189/MaP.2018.OMB.352

Your support makes the difference

The Pairi Daiza Foundation is allocating a budget of €23,751 to this project. It is thanks to your support that we can actually implement this action.

  • €1,400 will build 1 dam
  • €1.25 will enable 1 tree to be planted

13% of the total project budget will be spent on management costs for local authorities.

Do you like to support this project? You can make a donation on the bank account BE54 0689 0201 0097, with communication « Campagne orang-outan » !