About Rawa Kuno
A Unique Opportunity and a Fundraising Challenge
For OFI, the Rawa Kuno Legacy Forest initiative is a race against time in a must-win battle against the powerful forces of wealthy and influential palm oil industry leaders.
Current forest owner and local Dayak tribal elder Pak Kukuh recently announced his intention to sell his family’s 6,400-acre forest, piquing the interest of eager developers and palm oil companies and providing OFI with both a unique opportunity and a formidable challenge.
Keenly aware that the vast majority of land sold by local landowners is converted to palm oil plantations, we have made a firm promise to Pak Kukuh: OFI will raise the money to buy his family’s forest. In return, Pak Kukuh and his extended family have agreed to be patient. It is their wish, too, that this forest remain forever wild.
A Biological Treasure and an Important Orangutan Refuge
Home to Hundreds of Wild Orangutans
Rawa Kuno Legacy Forest is a special place worthy of OFI’s hard work and your generous support. Vast and biologically diverse, it includes ancient peat swamp forest, dry ground forest, brush forest, swamps and lakes. Contiguous with other undeveloped rainforest fragments and far from human settlements, it is a perfect home for endangered orangutans and other wildlife.
Hundreds of wild orangutans (already forcibly evicted from much of their historical habitat by forest destruction) have found refuge in the Rawa Kuno Legacy Forest. Their presence is readily visible within the peat swamp areas where the verdant forest canopy is festooned with orangutan sleeping nests. An exemplary South-East Asian biodiversity hotspot, this forest is also home to sun bears, clouded leopards, wild pigs, mouse deer, rusa deer, long-tailed macaque monkeys, pig-tailed macaque monkeys, proboscis monkeys, red leaf-eating monkeys, and gibbons—many found no where else in the world.
Rawa Kuno Legacy Forest boasts an amazing array of plant species as well. A short walk into the forest reveals an abundance of carnivorous, creeping pitcher plants, towering trees with girths larger than the arm-span of three grown men, and a variety of fruiting plants that sustain a biologically diverse ecosystem. On a larger scale, the forest is an important ‘carbon sink,’ with carbon (a contributor to global climate change if released) safely sequestered deep below its swampy waters and throughout the root systems of its peat swamp forest trees.
Rawa Kuno Legacy Forest is special for other reasons, too. It is part of a larger OFI plan to purchase and protect a network of parcels of primary and secondary lowland forest located between Tanjung Puting National Park and the Lamandau Reserve. OFI envisions a province-wide system of contiguous, biologically-intact nature reserves, parks, corridors, and protected areas, which together will provide essential habitat to ensure the long-term conservation of the endangered orangutan.
A Future Home for Rehabilitated Orangutans through Reforestation
As Borneo’s rainforests are cleared for palm oil plantations, orangutans are left homeless and vulnerable to starvation, disease, and predation by humans. Mother orangutans are killed and their infants fall victim to the cruel and illegal pet trade industry. If they are lucky, they eventually find their way to an orangutan rehabilitation facility, such as OFI’s Care Center.
For the more than 330 orangutans currently being cared for by OFI, the Rawa Kuno Legacy Forest truly is ‘the promised land.’ Each month increasing numbers of orphaned orangutans enter OFI’s rehabilitation program. Yet with so little protected forest remaining (and with national parks off limits by law to ex-captive orangutans), it is nearly impossible to find suitable release sites for those ready to return to the wild.
OFI will work hard to change that. Portions of the Rawa Kuno Legacy Forest, damaged by devastating fires in 2002, will be reforested through an aggressive, long-term tree planting project carried out by OFI staff and volunteers in the years ahead. This will transform existing open swampy grasslands back into lush tropical rainforests capable of supporting an expanded population of orangutans. A vast, wild, and fully reforested ecosystem, the Rawa Kuno Legacy Forest of tomorrow will become home to hundreds of orphaned and rehabilitated orangutans—giving them a second chance to grow up and be wild.
A Must-Win Battle
The Rawa Kuno Legacy Forest is a treasure worth fighting for. Every day local developers and big business representatives approach the current owners and offer to buy their land immediately, paying up front and in cash. While they have agreed to give OFI time to raise the necessary funds, Pak Kukuh and his extended family cannot wait forever.
OFI must be successful in keeping the Rawa Kuno Legacy Forest out of the hands of short-sighted developers by raising $640,000 as quickly as possible. Our success, fueled by your generous support, will contribute to the all-important, must-win battle against orangutan extinction.