Batang Ai National Park
(BANP) and Lanjak-Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary (LEWS) are home to 90% of the
orang-utan in Sarawak.
dialogues were held before the start of every social survey. Photo © WCS-Malaysia
The primary objective of our
work is to renew a sense of ownership and appreciation towards orang-utan and
their habitats among the local communities.
Results from previous social
surveys revealed general support for orang-utan conservation, but local
communities were unsure of how to respond to poaching of orang-utan. It was
also found that the local communities saw the national park as a provider of
jobs, but did not appreciate its ecosystem services such as clean water and
good prey habitat.
The conservation programs
with the Iban communities living along the six main rivers in the landscape:
Batang Ai, Ulu Engkari, Sungai Mujok, Ulu Kanowit, Sungai Ngemah and Ulu
Katibas. Most villages are only accessible by boat, but some can now be reached
via logging roads.
Most of the local
communities depend on the forest and river as their sources of protein and
income. But as the population grows, demand and competition for work have
prompted many to move out of the longhouses to towns and cities, and they
return only during festive seasons or school holidays.
Thus, the longhouses tend to
be populated by older members as well as the occasional group of grandchildren
in their care.
Orang-utan Conservation Education
and Outreach Program with local communities
An orang-utan conservation
education and outreach program was jointly conducted with Sarawak Forestry
Corporation (SFC) and also with the assistance of some of the local communities
at a total of 23 selected longhouses in Batang Ai, Ulu Engkari, Ulu Lemanak,
and Ulu Skrang.
with the longhouse people of Rumah Bakar, Nanga Bawi Patoh, Ulu Lemanak. Photo
© Lukmann Alen
The main activity in this
program was the 15 to 20 minutes orang-utan-themed skit complemented with a
quiz session, video presentation and a short PowerPoint slide presentation.
The objective of this program
was to renew a sense of appreciation for wildlife and conservation in resident
communities through conservation-based activities.
The storyline for the skit
was adapted from a script produced by the winner of the Orang-utan Drama
Contest 2014 (Sekolah Menengah Sains Kuching Utara), held at the Matang
Wildlife Centre, Kuching on 11th October 2014. Modifications were made to the
performance to suit the local communities.
Social research (evaluation and
session conducted in the dark as some longhouses still rely on generators and
oil lamps. © WCS-Malaysia Program
A social survey conducted in
2012 to evaluate the effectiveness of the radio program and also to gauge the
perception of the longhouse communities on wildlife and orang-utans as well as
to improve the orang-utan conservation education program in the future.
In total, 334 respondents
were interviewed from 27 longhouses located along six rivers at the Batang
Ai-Lanjak Entimau (BALE) complex. These include Batang Ai, Ulu Engkari, Ulu
Katibas, Ulu Ngemah, Ulu Mujok, and Ulu Kanowit. Prior to the survey, the
questionnaire was pilot-tested with the local communities in Kampung Rayu,
Lundu and Nanga Delok, Batang Ai.
Iban language radio program
The Saga of Bujang Sigat
In order to explore more
ways to engage the longhouse communities, the orang-utan radio program entitled
“Jerita Bujang Sigat” or “The Saga of Bujang Sigat” was developed and aired.
The goal of the program was to disseminate information about the importance of
the park and its ecosystem services as well as to engage local communities to
conserve orang-utans and other wildlife in the BANP-LEWS landscape.
to a short audio clip from Episode 4 of ‘Jerita Bujang Sigat’.
Radio Television Malaysia (Iban Services Section)
Social surveys were later
conducted to assess the effectiveness of the radio program as a communication
and conservation tool and to collect suggestions and opinions to improve
conservation action in the landscape.
Orang-utan conservation radio advertisement
Gumal, the Country Director of WCS-Malaysia Program was one of the speakers.
Photo © WCS-Malaysia Program
A series of 12 three-minute
radio advertisements on various orang-utan conservation topics were
pre-recorded and aired via Wai FM. The advertisements were prepared and read by
speakers from WCS-Malaysia and partners such as SFC, Forest Department of
Sarawak (FDS), and Borneo Adventure.
The objective of the radio
advertisement is to increase the level of awareness of the unique features of
wild orang-utans and high conservation value forests of Ulu Sungai Menyang
landscape among its resident communities.
The program was broadcasted
from 23 January 2016 until 2 April 2016 on a weekly basis, every Saturday and
Sunday at 7am.
Books Entitled “Orang-utan Folklores and Iban
Communities” and “Ensera Mayas Enggau Bansa Iban”
of the book available in both Iban language (left) and English.
A collection of folklores,
stories, taboos and tales (hereafter known as folklores) about orang-utans exist
among the villagers around Lanjak-Entimau and Batang Ai. These folklores show how the communities are culturally
related to the orang-utans. These folklores which existed as oral histories
have now been documented. The Iban language version of the folklores was
officially launched by YBhg. Datu Sudarsono Osman, on 10th of August 2015. It has since been translated into English and
both are now available for purchase at WCS and selected outlets in Sarawak.
Bookaroo Children’s Literature Festival
As the lead author of the
book entitled “Orang-utan folklore and Iban communities”, Ailyn Nau Anak Sidu
was invited to the Pustaka-Bookaroo Children’s Literature Festival (16th and
17th April 2016) to share orang-utan stories from her book. Bookaroo's mission
is to bring children and books together in a borderless world.
Orang-utan Drama Contest
In 2014, we pilot-tested two
school activities. Past programs were mostly teacher centred, but these new
activities targeted students.
The Orang-utan Drama Contest
targeted secondary schools in Kuching. The theme for the contest was
"Rebuilding the cultural bridge between local communities and wild
Schools were asked to create
their own script, which had to include a conservation message as well as a
positive scenario between local community and orang-utans. In all the drama
teams, we found that the students were the driving force in creating and
developing the scripts.
Watch a video compilation from the Orang-utan
Drama Contest 2014.
Participatory Photography Event
SK. Nanga Delok taking part in the Participatory Photography Event. Photo ©
Photography event with the theme, “Appreciating nature through pictures”, was
held at SK. Nanga Delok, a primary school near Batang Ai National Park. This is
a boarding school with students from different longhouse communities in the
area. It was exciting to see the students becoming more aware and appreciative
of their surroundings.
Conservation site tour
enjoying their dinner at Rumah Ngindang, Nanga Delok. © WCS-Malaysia Program
The US Embassy partnered
with WCS-Malaysia on an orang-utan social media contest entitled “Baby
Orang-utan: Caption Me!” in conjunction with World Orang-utan Day 2015.
The winners were given the
opportunity to visit the orang-utan habitat at Batang Ai National Park and Ulu
Sungai Menyang area to learn about orang-utans and their nests as well as other
local biodiversity. The winners were brought to stay for two nights at Rumah
Ngindang, Nanga Delok, an Iban longhouse situated near the Batang Ai National Park
to interact with the local community and observe their way of life.
We hope to continue working
with the local communities surrounding this important orang-utan habitat, to
develop solutions for the conservation of the species.
The orang-utan nest count surveys and conservation
education programs were financially supported by the US Fish and Wildlife Service Great Ape Conservation Fund (USFWS GACF), Margo Marsh Biodiversity
Foundation (MMBF), Whitley Fund for Nature, Arcus Foundation, Crest Megaway,
and Kathy Ruttenberg. Additional funds were provided by the Orang-utan Project Sdn Bhd (formerly known as Way Out Experiences (M)
Sdn Bhd) and Borneo Adventure. In-kind contribution for accommodation at the
operational bases, boats and additional manpower were provided by Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC), the conservation partner for this project. Additional off-road
transportation was provided by Hariwood Sdn. Bhd. Administrative support was
provided by the District Offices as well as District Police Offices of Lubok
Antu, Kanowit and Song. Permits to conduct the surveys, past and present were
provided by the Forest
Department of Sarawak
Text by Sylvia Ng, Elvinson
Anak Rosedy and Melvin Gumal.