Earth Expeditions

Borneo: Primate Conservation

Study Borneo’s primate denizens, including the orangutan. Develop new ways to engage communities worldwide in primate conservation.

Course Details
In Borneo: Borneo I: June 14-24, 2020
Borneo II: June 23-July 3, 2020


Add 1-2 days travel time. Students arrive at least one day before the course begins.
On the Web: April – December
Credits: 7 graduate credits from Miami University; course can be applied to the Global Field Program.
Course Cost: Field course (in-country + web): $2,750
(price includes tuition for 5 graduate credits and in-country costs) + airfare into Sandakan, Malaysia.

Fall project course (web, required): $600
(price includes tuition for 2 graduate credits)

Course Overview

Nestled in the Malay Archipelago, tropical Borneo has captured the imaginations of explorers and naturalists for centuries. Borneo is the third largest island in the world and home to remarkable cultural and ecological diversity. Borneo’s primate community is exceptionally rich—the Earth Expeditions course site along the Kinabatangan River in Sabah (East Malaysia) is home to ten primate species, including proboscis monkeys, which occur only in Borneo, two species of leaf monkey, two species of macaque, gibbons, as well as the large-eyed, nocturnal tarsier and slow loris. Of greatest conservation concern is the orangutan, which occurs naturally on only two islands in the world, Borneo and Sumatra, and is under increasingly severe pressure, primarily from habitat loss. Researchers have projected that the orangutan, the only great ape in Asia, may completely vanish from the wild within two decades.

Partnered with the Woodland Park Zoo, we will join researchers from the NGO Hutan and the Danau Girang Field Centre, and villagers of the Kinabatangan region who are responsible for model community-based efforts to preserve orangutans, Bornean pygmy elephants, and other species. In addition to becoming familiar with primatological field methods and their applications, students in the course will work with local groups and develop new ways to engage communities worldwide in saving orangutans and other wildlife. Possible field studies include: social behavior of primates, habitat selection, census methods, impact of forest fragmentation and reforestation, and the use of social networks in great-ape conservation campaigns.

Prior to and following the field experience in Borneo, students will complete coursework via the Dragonfly Workshops’ Web-Based Learning Community as they apply experiences to their home institutions.