• This project was partly match-funded by the Alumni Annual Fund

Orangutans and Fire Research-Fieldwork Funding

A project by: Abi Gwynn


WE RAISED £1,526

from 22 donors

This project received donations on Fri 21 Sep 2018
Funding help needed for research on the effects of the 2015 forest fires on orangutans in Indonesia.

A short summary of MY project

The greatest threat affecting the survival of the orangutan is habitat loss. On the island of Borneo, it is estimated that forest cover has decreased by 39% between 1973 and 2010. The Bornean orangutan has experienced an 86% population decline in just 52 years with the primary cause being loss of habitat. This has caused the Bornean orangutan to be categorised as 'Critically Endangered' by the IUCN in 2016. One of the most devastating forms of habitat loss is fire. In 2015, Indonesia was devastated by fires that destroyed an estimated 800,000ha of forest. These fires have fragmented remaining orangutan habitats, which were already irregularly distributed, causing isolation of populations now in extreme danger of dying out. Although orangutan numbers can fall to 50% of their original number in logged forest, in areas affected by fire populations can be completely wiped out. Therefore studying how the behaviour, ranging and health patterns of orangutans are affected by these fires is extremely important in order to implement correct conservation strategies and save this species.

Who aM I?

My name is Abi and I'm soon to be a Masters By Research student continuing from my undergraduate degree at the University of Exeter Penryn Campus. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to study orangutans in the field last summer in the Rungan Forest, Central Kalimantan where I showed that orangutans distribute themselves unevenly between different habitat types both spatially and temporally. After this experience I knew I had to go back and continue researching orangutans to ultimately help protect them from further population decline. The forest fires that occur in Indonesia are so devastating to orangutan populations and I want to do everything I can to understand how they can be helped!


The aims and objectives of my masters study are to identify how orangutans have been affected by the 2015 forest fires in Sabangau National Park. My main objectives are to investigate changes in orangutan behaviour and health. This will be done by investigating activity budgets and by analysing their excretory products for ketones and parasites.

This project will be extremely beneficial in understanding how such a catastrophic environmental event is affecting a critically endangered primate; the Bornean Orangutan. Sabangau National Park holds the largest remaining population of orangutans thus is a critical area to preserve if we are to ensure the survival of this species.

Where will the money go?

If the minimum target is reached, this will fund my research in the field for one month. If the full target is reached, this will fund 6 months! The longer I can spend in the field conducting this study, the more information I can gather on how orangutans are being affected by forest fires, making a more robust and useful study. I am hoping to spend up to 1 year doing fieldwork, thus if full target is reached, the additional money will help me to fund more time in Indonesia.

The money donated will go towards the costs of living in the field, local transport, employing local field assistants and buying any necessary equipment. This will cost around £500 per month.

On top of this, extra expenditure will be on flights and visa costs.


I would be extremely grateful for any donation to help fund my project, no matter how big or small! To say thank you I've planned some great rewards to everyone who donates. Check them out in the rewards section.

Images and video

Here are some of the amazing things I saw when I visited Borneo last summer!

Find ME here

Find out about my previous travels to Borneo and beyond on my travel blog; 'Nomad By Nature' https://nomadbynaturesite.wordpress.com/

I share this blog along with my photography from my trips on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/abinomadbynature/ and Twitter https://twitter.com/Nomad_By_Nature

I will be adding new blogs and photography posts on my latest work once I arrive in Borneo in January 2019 so follow me for updates!

Help ME succeed!

I'd really appreciate any donation you can make. But you don't need to give money to help my cause! Please share my project with anyone you think would be interested or would like to support. Share on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, by email, telephone and in a chat on the street! In fact, I'd love it if you could share it with everyone you know! This will not only help to spread the word about my project, but about the crisis orangutans are facing right now. I hope it will inspire people to care about the plight of orangutan populations and to make the right lifestyle choices (choosing only sustainable palm oil products or alternatives). A little action can go a long way.