Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOS)

The main goal of BOS is to protect orangutans, an endangered species, and the natural habitat they live in. The organization also focuses on reintroduction of orangutans into the wild.


The Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOS) is a nonprofit environmental foundation organization located in Balikpapan, Indonesia. BOS is active in many fields. The main goal of the organization is to protect orangutans and the natural habitat they live in. The wild orangutan is at risk of becoming extinct. Wild orangutans live in Indonesia and Malaysia. The number of wild orangutans is decreasing rapidly every year (

Another area BOS focuses on is the reintroduction of orangutans into the wild. Many orangutans are being used as entertainment in Thailand and as pets in people’s homes. The animals are used for boxing shows, for decoration at hotels, and are held illegally held in so-called zoos or as pets. In all of these cases, the animals are mistreated and often die. BOS rescues these animals, nurses them back to health and hopefully returns the orangutans to their natural habitat.

Another important area of BOS is education and raising public awareness. BOS collaborates with schools to educate youth about the orangutan and its environment. Furthermore, BOS works closely with the Minister of Forestry in Indonesia to enforce the current animal rights laws and to enact new laws.

Historic Roots

The Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation was founded in 1991 in Balikpapan, Indonesia as the Balikpapan Orangutan Society by Dr. Willie Smits. Dr. Smits, an ecologist and advisor to the Minister of Forestry in Indonesia, found a sick baby orangutan in the market in Balikpapan. Dr. Smits managed to care for the sick orangutan and was then given another. In 14 years, BOS has grown into a recognized foundation in Indonesia with sister organizations in 11 other countries.

Orangutans are unique, highly intelligent animals that share 97% of their DNA with humans.  Orangutans are one of four great apes and only live in Asia in Indonesia and Malaysia. The orangutan is the largest living tree mammal in the world. They spend most of their lives living in trees, building nests each night to sleep at the top of trees. (


BOS has two main programs it supports. The first program is called Wanariset. Wanariset is the largest legally operated orangutan reintroduction project in the world. Wanariset was first founded in 1985 by Dr. Willie Smits, the founder of BOS. The funding for this project comes from many areas including government, sponsorships of individual orangutans, membership fees, and corporate and private donations. As of April 20, 2005, BOS has over 520 orangutans they care for. The cost to save one wild orangutan is approximately $1,000 US dollars. (

The second program is called Nyaru Menteng. Nyaru Menteng’s goal is to rescue the animals from the forests that are being cleared for Palm-oil plantations. Much of the land of Borneo is being cleared to plant large palm-oil plantations. This puts the orangutans at risk because their natural habitat is being destroyed, forcing them go out in the open where they are often times being hunted or caught for food or entertainment. Scientists estimate that wild orangutans are disappearing at the rate of 2,000 a year and will be extinct in 10 years (

Ties to the Philanthropic Sector

BOS and it’s sister organizations throughout the world have made considerable contributions to the lives of orangutans. BOS can be found in Indonesia, United States, Netherlands, Australia, Germany, Austria, England, Japan, Canada, Denmark, Switzerland and France. All the BOS organizations are considered nonprofit organizations in their respective countries, with most of them registered in multiple countries.

There are many other nonprofit organizations that focus on orangutans, but none as established or effective as BOS. Australia, Sumatra, and Indonesia all have their own orangutan protection organizations. BOS, however, is so effective because it focuses on at least four different areas: protection for existing orangutans, orangutan reintroduction, conservation educational programs, and funding research. In particular, the organization works to protect forests by stopping the destructive impact of logging and to fight poaching by helping communities develop long-term plans for alternate sustainable incomes. (

Key Related Ideas

Animal and Environment Conservation (defined as the preservation of species and ecosystems) is very important to the survival of wild orangutans and is the main goal of BOS. More and more animals are becoming extinct. One of the main reasons is that their natural habitat is being destroyed, either by man or by natural disasters.

Ape Smuggling has become a big problem in Thailand. Orangutans, one of four big apes, are often targeted for commercial purposes. They are often used in boxing matches for entertainment, in so-called zoos, or in hotels as decoration. (

Deforestation is one of the largest problems for the wild orangutan. Planters are illegally cutting down and burning forests to plant palm-oil plantations, destroying the homes of thousands of plants and animals.

Orangutan Reintroduction is a vital part of keeping the wild orangutan alive. Dr. Willie Smits started Wanariset, the largest reintroduction program in the world. Orangutans that are confiscated by the government are brought to Wanariset, usually with diseases, malnourished and abused. Once healthy enough, the orangutans are released back into the wild, usually in protected forests or parks. (

Important People Related to the Topic

  • His Royal Highness Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands (1911-2004): Price Bernhard was a patron and major supporter of BOS. Prince Bernhard visited the BOS projects in Indonesia many times and was influential in spreading the word about BOS to potential supporters. 

  • Dr. Jane Goodall (1934- ): Dr. Goodall has done extensive research on chimpanzees and is known worldwide for her research on chimpanzee’s behavior and their ability to make tools. Today, Dr. Goodall travels around the world speaking about how people can help each other, animals, and the environment. The Jane Goodall Institute has a youth program called Roots & Shoots that focuses on environmental and animal education. Currently, there are over 7,000 groups in over 87 countries around the world. (

  • Dr. Willie Smits (1957--): Dr. Smits started BOS in 1991 by finding a sick orangutan in the market and caring for the animal. Smits also started the Wanariset forestry research station in 1985 to study reforestation techniques. Smits is also the director of the Gibbon Foundation, a foundation focused on animal conservation in Indonesia. Smits is an integral part of orangutan’s survival in Indonesia and has been given many awards because of his work including being knighted in the Netherlands.

  • Ir. Djamaludin Suryohadikusumo (1934 -): Suryohadikusumo is the former Minister of Forestry of the Republic of Indonesia and is on the board of directors for BOS. While Minister of Forestry, Suryohadikusumo and Dr. Smits created many of the laws that are still in place today.

Related Nonprofit Organizations

  • Care for the Wild International (CFTWI) is an animal welfare and conservation society that cares for wild animals throughout the world. CFTWI protects animals’ environment, rehabilitates sick or injured animals and provides sanctuary for those animals that cannot return to the wild. CFTWI is a registered charity in the United Kingdom and has been around since 1984. (

  • The Gibbon Foundation, a foundation focused on animal conservation in Indonesia, is located in Liechtenstein. The mission of the organization is “to contribute to the conservation of animals and their ecosystems in Indonesia.” The Gibbon Foundation has been a supporter of BOS throughout the years. Dr. Willie Smits is the director of the organization. (

  • The Orangutan Foundation International (OFI) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving wild orangutans and the forests in Indonesia and Malaysia founded in 1986 by Dr. Biruté Mary Galdikas with the objectives of research, conservation and education. OFI is noted for their educational efforts throughout the world. (

  • The Sumatran Orangutan Society is a registered nonprofit organization in Indonesia that has similar goals as BOS. The main goal of the Sumatran Orangutan Society is to save the Sumatran orangutans, as well as to educate people about the animals and the environment in which they live. (

Related Web Sites

Roots and Shoots is a program stated by Dr. Jane Goodall to inspire youth to get involved in animal and environmental conservation. The Dr. Jane Goodall Institute’s Roots and Shoots program can be found at

Globio’s website at is an interactive place for youth to learn more about animals and the environment. Globio is a nonprofit organization based out of the US that seeks to better educate youth about environmental issues and get them involved. The website also has information for teachers on integrating the information into classrooms.

The World of the Orangutan at is an interactive site for youth detailing the life of an orangutan. The site takes you through the home of the orangutan and has great photos of the animals.

The Indonesian Nature Conservation Database at is a great resource for information on animals and forests in Indonesia. The site is full of detailed information, particularly about forests and protected parks.