Winner avatar
2019 Whitley Award
Gunung Palung Orangutan Conservation Programme
Wendi Tamariska Indonesia Terrestrial
Protecting orangutans and rainforests through sustainable livelihoods


The mountains of Gunung Palung National Park make up some of the last stands of primary rainforest in the world. Supporting many endangered species, including the Bornean orangutan, they also play a vital role in regulating the local and global climate. Yet these forests are threatened by expanding oil palm plantations, mining activities and illegal logging. Not only does this impact the forest, but the indigenous people living around the National Park.


Since Wendi joined the Gunung Palung Orangutan Conservation Programme in 2010, he has demonstrated to both community members and government officials that conservation goals can be achieved through the provision of genuine, sustainable, economic alternatives. He has connected traditional artisans to local and national markets and persuaded local restaurants to favour organic produce from the farmers he supports.


Wendi’s work has enabled community members to put down their chainsaws and give up backbreaking jobs in mining and logging. For the last seven years the National Handicraft Association has purchased from Wendi’s artisan groups on a monthly basis and in 2017, 11 former illegal loggers signed agreements to halt deforestation and protect orangutans in exchange for livelihoods support.

Wendi’s project will:

  • Scale up this model to new sites and reduce the incidence of illegal logging and encroachment by villagers through the promotion of alternative livelihoods.
  • Increase the number of traditional artisans benefiting from the sale of non-timber forest products from 25 to 45 households.
  • Double the number of community members reached through awareness and education activities promoting the protection of orangutans.

Why it matters:

  • Gunung Palung National Park is also home to proboscis monkeys, pangolins, hornbills and sun bears.
  • Orangutan populations have declined by over 50% in the last 60 years.
  • Gunung Palung National Park and the surrounding area is home to an estimated 5,000 Critically Endangered Bornean orangutans.

“It is my mission to work with communities to protect their forests, natural resources, and their traditional way of life.”

Image credits: Tim Laman (orangutans)