Tanjung Puting National Park : Re-introducing Orang Utans to the Wild
Tanjung Puting National Park has several ecosystem types: lowland tropical rain forest, dryland forest, freshwater swamp forest, mangrove forest, coastal forest, and secondary forest.
The Park is dominated by lowland forest plants like jelutung (Dyera costulata), ramin (Gonystylus bancanus), meranti (Shorea sp.), keruing (Dipterocarpus sp.), and rattans.
Endangered and protected species of animal inhabiting the Park include the orangutan (Pongo satyrus), proboscis monkey (Nasalis larvatus), maroon leaf monkey (Presbytis rubicunda rubida), sun bear (Helarctos malayanus euryspilus), lesser Malay mouse deer (Tragulus javanicus klossii), clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa), and leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis borneoensis).
This Park was the first place in Indonesia to become a rehabilitation centre for orangutans. There are now three orangutan rehabilitation locations, Tanjung Harapan, Pondok Tanggui, and Camp Leakey.
The orangutan of Kalimantan has dark reddish fur and no tail. As they get older, the adult males cheeks flesh out, resembling cushions. The older they get, the bigger these cheek flanges grow, giving them a fierce look.
UNESCO has declared Tanjung Puting National Park as a Biosphere Reserve, and it is also a Sister Park to Taman Negara Malaysia under a cooperation agreement between Indonesia and Malaysia.
The park, which covers territory the size of Bali, is home to an amazing array of wildlife including it’s world famous orang utans. The park is also home to monkeys, birds and other wildlife, not to mention the pristine vegetation of the jungle. This is a world famous natural treasure which attracts a growing number of international visitors each year.
Tanjung Puting is located in Central Kalimantan. The area was originally declared as a game reserve in 1935 and became a national park in 1982. The park sits on a peninsula that juts out into the Java sea. The sheer size of the park means that it has diverse habitat zones. This diversity means the park is home to a great variety of inhabitants, both flora and fauna.
The incredible jungle surrounds make this an amazing place to visit if you’re after a truly outdoor adventure. It is an oasis of pure clean air, a clear night sky as well as a home to the gentle people of the jungle – the orang utans.
The orang utans are undoubtedly the best known inhabitants of the park, made famous through the work of the Orangutan Research and Conservation Program based at the Camp Leakey research station. Camp Leakey is an orangutan preserve and the site of the longest continuous study of any wild animal in the history of science. With around three quarters of the world’s orang utan’s population living on Borneo, this park is the ideal place to see these incredible creatures in the wild.
Because the vegetation of Tanjung Puting supports a large population of animals this park is one of the most important areas in Southeast Asia for the preservation of primates, birds, reptiles and fish.
The Sekonyer river is famous for it’s natural beauty and wildlife. As you cruise down through the jungle, you’ll be transported to another world, a world far beyond the hustle and bustle of city life.
Relax on board your boat and take in the sights of monkeys jumping from tree to tree. The park is home to around eight species of monkeys including the very distinctive proboscis monkey, with its distinctive long nose it is sure to grab your attention. Try to spot wild orang utans swinging through the thick and lush vegetation. Remember to keep your eyes out for crocodiles too, they might be hard to spot but they’re definitely there! As well as this, the park is also a haven for over 220 species of birds.
One of the main attractions of Tanjung Puting is Camp Leakey, the orang utan preserve. The camp was founded in 1971 as a haven for orang utans rescued from domestic capture. Today the camp remains a centre of research of these amazing animals. Learn more about orang utans at the Camp Leakey information centre. The daily feedings of wild orang utans will be the highlight of your visit as you will most likely get to see wild orang utans up close in their natural habitat. Camp Leakey was named after Dr Louis Leakey, the mentor of one of the camps founder’s Professor Birute Galdikas. Dr Leakey was also mentor to Jane Goddal and Dianne Fossey in their respective studies of chimpanzees and mountain gorillas.
Professor Galdikas established the camp in 1971. Today, the work of the camp remains vital as orang utans are an endangered species, threatened by the impact of deforestation and the illegal pet trade.
Pondok Tanguii is also a rehabilitation centre for ex-captive orang utans located in the park which has daily feedings of the apes. At both centres, you will get the chance to see these amazing primates up close and learn more about how we can protect this endangered species of Borneo island.
Interesting locations and attractions:
Tanjung Harapan: this is the first station in the orangutan rehabilitation process. Situated in the midst of secondary forest and swamp forest, it has a guesthouse, an information centre, and trails.
Pondok Tanggui: orangutans that have passed the semi-wild phase are moved to Pondok Tanggui. There, they are closely monitored from a distance, and human contact is avoided.
Camp Leakey: founded in 1971 in the middle of primary forest, this is the location for semi-wild and wild orangutans, and for younger orangutans from birth until three years of age.
Natai Lengkuas: bekantan research station, and watching other animals along the river.
Buluh River and Danau Burung (Bird Lake): watching birds, in particular migrant species.
Among the cultural attractions outside the Park is a traditional rowing contest held in Pangkalan Bun in May.
To explore the park, visitors must take a boat down the Sekonyer River from Pangkalan Bun. These boats will accomodate you for the duration of your stay in Tanjung Punting.
A number of tour operators run cruises from Pangkalan Bun down the river. If you pre-arrange your tour, the tour operator will pick you up from the airport and transport you straight to the river.
In the jungle there is no other option but to get around by foot so a visit to Tanjung Puting will involve walking in the great outdoors. As you trek through the tropical surrounds you’ll need to keep your eyes peeled for orang utans, monkeys, bush pigs and wild deer as you go. Search for native wildlife including the great birdlife while you take in the sights of a truly exotic tropical jungle.
Walks can be tailored to your level of fitness so discuss the different options with your guide before you set out.
While you are staying on the river, traditional boats called klotoks will transport you around.
- From Jakarta to Semarang to Pangkalan Bun by plane,
- Or from Semarang to Pangkalan Bun by ship.
- Then From Pangkalan Bun to Kumai by car (8 km).
- Then, From Kumai to Tanjung Harapan by motorized longboat, 1.5-2 hours;
- or From Kumai to Natai Lengkuas, 4-5 hours;
- From Kumai to Tanjung Harapan by fast motor boat, 0.5-1 hour;
- From Kumai to Camp Leakey, 1.5-2 hours;
- or from Kumai to Natai Lengkuas, 1.5-2 hours.
Best time of year to visit: June to September
Take mosquito repellent, sunscreen and a torch. Don’t forget your camera, you’ll want to record every moment of your experience up close with the orang utans.
Temperature: 22° – 33° C
Rainfall: 2,400 mm/annual (on average)
Altitude: 0 – 100 m asl.
Geographical location: 111°42′ – 112°14′ E; 2°33′ – 3°32′ S
Source: The Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy Republic Indonesia, and The Ministry of Forestry Republic Indonesia