The Orangutan Project was established in 1998 by founder and world-renowned orangutan expert, Leif Cocks, as a result of his almost 30 year career working with orangutans. Leif is a passionate campaigner for orangutans and has been the President of The Orangutan Project since its inception.
Leif’s years in the field have earned him respect within the conservation field. He has been a key player in developing conservation plans for orangutans and influencing positive change for orangutan protection and survival. This includes the first ever successful reintroduction of the zoo- born orangutan. This respect has given The Orangutan Project world standing in conservation.
A small population biologist and curator by trade; Leif has several academic qualifications, including a Masters of Science studying orangutans. He lectures at universities, is a seasoned public speaker and has published several papers on orangutans in peer-reviewed journals. Leif is also the author of the books Orangutans and their Battle for Survival (2002) and, Amazon best seller, Orangutans My Cousins, My Friends (2016) – A journey to understand and save the person of the forest.
Leif is currently: a Technical Advisor for PT Alama Bukit Tigapuluh (a company leasing and protecting rainforest), President of International Elephant Project, President of International Tiger Project, Vice President of Orang Utan Republik Foundation and on the Advisor Board for Forest, Nature and Environment of Aceh.
In respect to his professional, animal, human and financial management skills, Leif has been the longest standing member of the Australasian Species Management Program; a Quarantine-Approved Assessor; Zoo Husbandry Adviser; Zoo Accreditation Officer; UN GRASP in-country point of contact, an International Species Coordinator, International Studbook Keeper and the Chair of a World Aquarium and Zoo Association global conservation program.
The Orang Utan Republik Foundation (OURF) was established in 2007 by Dr. Gary Shapiro who began his involvement with orangutans 47 years ago in the field of primate cognition and learning. He was the first person (1973-1975) to teach a symbolic communication system to an orangutan and the first person to have taught sign language to orangutans in the species’ natural environment (1978-1980; 1981 Indonesian Borneo). During his time in Borneo, Shapiro assisted in the rehabilitation efforts of dozens of ex-captive orangutans and monitored the phenology of local rain forest ecosystem.
Shapiro received his doctorate in Zoology in 1985 from the University of Oklahoma then returned to Indonesian Borneo (1986) to conduct freshwater ecology studies. Shapiro’s interest in the freshwater ecology of Borneo was an extension of the research projects he conducted while being employed by the Oklahoma Water Resources Board (1982-1985). He was also employed for nearly 27 years with the state of California as an emergency planner and an emergency responder (1988-2014).
Shapiro was the co-founder and vice president of the Orangutan Foundation International from 1986-2004. He has authored or co-authored numerous papers on orangutan linguistics, cognition, conservation and ethics. In late 2004, Dr. Shapiro and his Indonesian wife, Inggriani, were inspired to create the Orang Utan Republik Education Initiative (OUREI) and in response to the education needs underscoring the crisis facing orangutans today, particularly in Sumatra.
Hardi Baktiantoro has extensive experience in nature conservation, especially in law enforcement and developing public support. Before founding COP in 2007, he was the assistant for Lone Droscher Nielsen to run the world’s biggest orangutan centre in Central Borneo.
Baktiantoro started its career in Leuser Ecosystems, Sumatra back in 1998 as a social specialist. He is a photography enthusiast and has a degree in Journalism. He also worked as photojournalist for several media including Reuters, especially for environmental issues.
Sari Fitriani journey in social work started after she graduated in 2016. After graduated, She joined a community development program for two years. During that time, she was living in remote and rural areas in Sumatra and Kalimantan with the local community and helping them
managed and developed their local resources.
In 2018, Sari started working with COP and has been traveling around Kalimantan to help COP’s conservation work since then. She passionately helps COP in campaign, social development, ecotourism program, government relation and also habitat protection and learns so much about conservation along the way.