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Cheryl Knott
Grantee: Cheryl Knott, Anthropologist
Borneo, Indonesia

Time spent by research team:
More than 50,000 hours over the past decade

Gunung Palung National Park, Borneo, Indonesia

Park's orangutan population:
About 2,500

Worldwide population:
15,000 to 24,000 in the wild

Dangers for orangutans: By some estimates more than 80 percent of all orangutan habitat has been destroyed. Since 1996 legal and illegal logging has consumed about five million acres (two million hectares) of forest each year.

Spreading awareness:
"Through our educational outreach programs and awareness campaigns around the park, we are drawing public attention to the orangutans' plight and helping to make a difference. It would be tragic to let these great apes slip away."


Learn More

Gunung Palung Orangutan Project
Visit Dr. Cheryl Knott's website featuring her orangutan research in Gunung Palung National Park, Borneo, Indonesia.

Balikpapan Orangutan Society–USA
Learn more about these red apes at this website, which includes education resources and things you can do to help protect orangutans.

Orangutans Online
This website contains frequent updates on topics related to orangutan conservation.

Global Forest Watchenglish/indonesia/
A World Resources Institute initiative, this network provides information on forests throughout the world, including Indonesia.


Felton, Annika M., and others. "Orangutan population density, forest structure and fruit availability in hand-logged and unlogged peat swamp forests in West Kalimantan, Indonesia," expected to be published in Biological Conservation
November 2003), 91-101.

Jepson, Paul, and others. "The End for Indonesia's Lowland Forests?" Science (May 4, 2001), 859-61.

Knott, Cheryl D. "Orangutan Behavior and Ecology." In The Nonhuman Primates, ed. P. Dolhinow and A. Fuentes. Mayfield Publishing Company, 1999.

Knott, Cheryl D. "Changes in orangutan diet, caloric intake and ketones in response to fluctuating fruit availability." International Journal of Primatology (1998), 1061-79.

Matthews, Emily, ed. The State of the Forest: Indonesia. Forest Watch Indonesia and Global Forest Watch, 2002. Available online at

Van Schaik, Carel P., and Cheryl D. Knott. "Geographic Variation in Tool Use on Neesia Fruits in Orangutans," American Journal of Physical Anthropology (April 2001), 331-42.

Van Schaik, Carel P., and others. "Orangutan Cultures and the Evolution of Material Culture," Science (January 3, 2003), 102-5.


Field Dispatch: Borneo

Photographs by Tim Laman

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This Week's Questions. Click on a question for a full response.


What kind of opportunities are there for students who want to study and help preserve orangutans?


In what ways are orangutans learning to defend themselves and further their


What is the best way to preserve orangutan populations?


How can others help?





Question 1:

What kind of opportunities are there for students who want to
study and help preserve orangutans?


Students can contact the directors of orangutan projects about
helping them with their work or about the possibility of conducting
research.  Visit  for a list of study
sites and contacts.

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Question 2:

What is the best way to preserve orangutan populations?


The only way to preserve orangutans is to protect their habitat and
to stop the illegal logging of the rain forest. As their only source of food and shelter, the remaining forested areas are critical to their survival.

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Question 3:

In what ways are orangutans learning to defend themselves and further their


They have no way of defending themselves against humans.

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Question 4:

How can others help?


They can contribute to the efforts to save and study orangutans.  I
would suggest contributions to the Balikpapan Orangutan Society–USA at

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