Australian Orangutan Project

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The Australian Orangutan Project (AOP) is a non-profit registered Australian environmental organisation[1] established in 1998, which raises funds to support the conservation and protection of orangutans and the preservation and rehabilitation of their forest habitats, which are primarily located in Indonesia. It undertakes this work by supporting a range of other organisations working in the field, such as the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOS), the Orangutan Foundation International, founded by Dr Birute Galdikas and the Orangutan Foundation.[2]

Donations from the public, funds from community events, AOP membership fees, orphan orangutan ‘adoptions’ and grants from various sources are used to support orangutan care centres, natural forest rehabilitation, forest patrols to eliminate illegal logging and protect released animals, and local community awareness initiatives. In 2005, the organisation received over A$62,000 from the Australian Government's Regional Natural Heritage Program (RNHP) to develop and implement two orangutan protection units in the Bukit Tigapuluh National Park region in Sumatra and to monitor and deter illegal logging in two regions.[3] This project contributes to the long term conservation of the largest remaining lowland rainforest block in Sumatra. In 2006, AOP won an additional A$92,000 from the RNHP to extend the work of the orangutan protection units to better protect the Bukit Tigapuluh mega fauna, including the Sumatran elephant and tiger, through training, monitoring and surveillance activities. AOP also was awarded funds of A$207,500 to undertake a survey of wildlife in Borneo's forests in Malua/Segama. This includes surveys of the Ulu Segama reserve to establish wildlife baseline data and the development of a Forest Management Plan with particular focus on orangutan populations.[4]

The Australian Orangutan Project’s founder and current President is Leif Cocks. Leif is Perth Zoo's Curator of Exotic Mammals, where he has been working with orangutans for over 20 years. Leif has been awarded a Master of Science from Curtin University, Western Australia for his research into the improvement of the welfare of orangutans in captivity. His book 'Orangutans and their Battle for Survival’ was published by the University of Western Australia in 2003. Leif has been involved with numerous projects and field trips to Sumatra and Borneo, including the first ever release into the wild of an orangutan, known as ‘Temara,’ who was born in captivity.[5]

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