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The Mawas Conservation Program is a Borneo Orangutan Survival (BOS) Foundation program in Central Kalimantan. Unlike the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, this program does not address orangutan rehabilitation, but concentrates on preserving the population of wild orangutans living in a vast peat swamp forest. Let’s find out what activities this program undertakes!

The Mawas Conservation Program focuses on the restoration and maintenance of a 309,000-hectare area that includes extensive peat swamp forest spread across the two regencies of Kapuas and South Barito in Central Kalimantan. The peat swamp forest in this area was once drained under a failed government program called the Mega Rice Project, which aimed to open up vast agricultural areas to fulfil the demand for rice. The Mawas Conservation Program has been restoring the area by blocking manmade canals and planting vital and endemic trees to return productivity and positive ecosystem services to the area, whilst also reducing the danger of both forest fires and extraordinary flooding. 

Considering the large area in which the activities of the Mawas Conservation Program are conducted, other stakeholders are also involved, in particular, the surrounding communities. In order to support efforts to protect the environment, the BOS Foundation provides these local communities with assistance and education on the sustainable use of natural resources. Environmental and conservation education is also provided to the youth of these communities, as well as the recruitment of local workers in a number of roles that require their special skills. 

Of all the activities carried out in the Mawas area, there is one that initially sparked the formation of the Mawas Conservation Program: the protection of wild orangutans. In this area, an estimated 2,550 wild orangutans live under the threat of illegal logging and forest fires, both of which still occur to this day.

To effectively protect these wild orangutans, the BOS Foundation needed scientific support, which led to a collaboration with scientists across various disciplines. For this purpose, the Tuanan Research Station was established as a base for non-invasive research on wild orangutans. Currently, at this station, researchers from Universitas Nasional (UNAS) and Rutgers University collect data on wild orangutan behaviour, life history, and dietary ecology, in addition to general peat swamp ecology. 

Interested in learning more about the Mawas Conservation Program? Stay tuned – we will soon release more stories about this amazing program!

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