Hutan’s mission is to conserve threatened habitats and wildlife species in Sabah and to promote the sustainable management of natural ecosystems by empowering local communities and developing mutually beneficial stakeholder partnerships.


In 1994, Isabelle and Marc visited Sabah for the first time. Realizing that many orang-utans were hanging in disturbed and over-logged forests, they decided to establish an intensive study site in the fragmented forests of Lower Kinabatangan to study orang-utan adaptation to habitat disturbance. Hutan was born. In 1998, with the full support of the Sabah Wildlife Department, Hutan established the Kinabatangan Orang-utan Conservation Programme (or KOCP) in the village of Sukau.

This research question led to the development of a holistic conservation programme steered by community members.

Drs, Isabelle Lackman

Marc Ancrenaz


HUTAN’s long-range intended impact is to sustain meta-population of large-ranging species across entire landscapes encompassing fully protected forests and production areas. This includes a better understanding of wildlife needs in fragmented and highly transformed landscapes; ecosystems’ restoration and reforestation; habitat and wildlife protection; better acceptation of a peaceful co-existence between people and animals; improved policies and land-use planning.


HUTAN is a family of more than 70 full-time highly skilled staff hailing from the Orang Sungai community. The HUTAN Steering Committee, including Isabelle and Marc, is led by:

Dato Ahbam Abulani

Programme Manager and “HUTAN Environmental Awareness Programme” (HEAP) Director.

Ex-logger and fisherman, Ahbam or “Bam” is now a fierce advocate for environmental protection in Sabah.

Hamisah Elahan

“Orang-utan Research Team” (OURS) Manager.

Hamisah (known by all as Mislin) has followed wild orang-utans at our study site for more than 20 years. She is a well of knowledge about the animals and the forest.

Eddie Ahmad

“Wildlife and Survey Protection Unit“ (WSP) Manager:

Eddie has developed an incredible knowledge and understanding of frogs, birds and other taxa living in Kinabatangan.

Berjaya Elahan

In charge of the KOCP “Honorary Wildlife Wardens” (HWW). Berjaya, or “Badul” started to study wild orangutans with HUTAN in March 1999.

Badul loves wildlife and wildlife photography.

Norinah Braim

Working with us since 2008, Norina wants to preserve the natural heritage of her community. For her, planting trees is a way to help people and animals.

Mariana Singgong

“Dadai”, as she is known to all of us is very proud that a team of women can recreate a forest for the benefits of all.

Ahmad Shukryien bin Abdul Rauf or “Maman”

Maman’s stamina and charisma make him a good leader for this team of young researchers.

Maman loves tree and rock climbing; he wants to learn more about trees and animals.

Jamal Sinyor

Jamal’s family used to own some of the Pangi caves, and Jamal was in charge of the team since its creation in 2010.

Jamal retired in 2020 but is still assisting the team with his knowledge and experience.

Dr Nurzhafarina Othman

Farina, founder of Seratu Aatai, believes that elephants and people can co-exist in Sabah: she is dedicated to strengthen stakeholders’s capacity and tolerance to share the habitat with elephants.

HUTAN has five major Teams or Units:

The “Orang-utan Research Unit” (OURs)

The “Orang-utan Research Unit” (OURs), whose aim is to determine how to sustain viable orang-utan populations within degraded and fragmented landscapes. This team is following wild habituated orangutans at the KOCP intensive study site, located in Lot 2 of the Lower Kinabatangan Sanctuary.

Abdul Rajak Bin Saharon or “Markkis”. Ex staff of the Sabah Forestry Department, Markkis brings his extensive botanical knowledge to the team.

Azli Bin Etin or “Kecil”. Originating from Abai, a nearby village. Kecil is one of the best trackers of orang-utans within the team.

Hartiman Bin Abd. Rahman or “Harti”.  Back at the office, Harti is processing the thousands of orangutan scans collected by the team.

Herman Bin Suali or “Man”. Who was the first researcher to join our team in 1998. Today, Man is also the OURs’ GIS specialist.

Mohd Daisah Bin Kapar or “Hussein”. Hussein is particularly interested at understanding better how orang-utans could survive in oil palm dominated landscapes.

Mohd. Faisal Bin Asmara, or “Faisal”. Faisal is in charge of ensuring the quality of data collected in the field.

Waslee Bin Maharan or “Lolo”. With his intimate knowledge of the forest, Lolo is also an amazing orang-utan tracker.

Bahrani Bin Elahan or “Sintong”. Sintong is OURS boat captain and driver; he is in charge of ensuring team safety in the forest.

The “Wildlife and Survey Protection Unit”

WSP identifies ways for people and wildlife to co-exist peacefully in the same environment. In 2002, HUTAN initiated an “Elephant Conservation Unit” that was merged subsequently with the HUTAN Honorary Wildlife Wardens and finally became the WSP in 2016. The WSP works for the protection of wildlife and its habitat through conflict mitigation and biodiversity monitoring. The team is in charge of the KOCP Elephant and Hornbill Conservation projects.

Ahmad Sapie bin Kapar.  Working with us since 2002, Ahmad has built an impressive first-hand knowledge of elephant ecology in Kinabatangan.

• Azman bin Abdullah. Always ready for a joke, Azman spends most of his time following elephants in the forest or in the plantations.

• Hasbollah bin Sinyor or “Apek”. In addition to his skills with elephant research and conservation, Apek is also in charge of the water quality monitoring project implemented in Kinabatangan.

• Mahatir bin Ratag or “Dir”. Dir is passionate about insects and spiders. He is also our GIS specialist.

• Selamat bin Suali. Mat joined WSP in 2018 and is directly involved in data processing and analysis.

• Amanda Shia. Amanda is supervising the wildlife monitoring being carried out in the Keruak Corridor. She is currently conducting her MSc at Manchester University, UK.

• Sudirman bin Sawang or “Max”. Max is working on elephant issues for Seratu Aatai with Dr Farina Othman, and is an invaluable addition to the team.

• Helson Hassan and Amidi bin Majinun. These two researchers are working closely with Ravinder Kaur from GAIA; they are in charge of hornbill research and monitoring for HUTAN and GAIA.

• Berjaya bin Elahan or “Badul”. Badul started to work with HUTAN in 1999. He first worked with the Orang-utan Team and he is now in charge of managing the team of HUTAN Honorary Wildlife Wardens.

The Forest Restoration Team

The Forest Restoration Team is in charge of planting, maintaining, and monitoring seedlings of native tree species at selected reforestation sites within or adjacent to the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary. This team was officially created in January 2008. This unit comprises 10 full-time staff assisted by 4 to 5 interns who rotate every month. This team is comprised entirely of women. The Unit also runs a small tree nursery to provide seedlings that are used for reforestation activities.

• Hamsiah binti Marhabam. Assistant head for field operations.

• Dayang Raina bte Rahim. Field operation.

• Haslina binti Braim. Field operation.

• Maslindah binti Sawang. Field operation.

• Masrita binti Takasi. Field operation.

• Nur Ameera Nadia Binti Jolirwan. Field operation.

• Rukinah binti Sinyor. Field operation.

• Yanti binti Indal. Field operation.

• Misliha binti Osop. KOCP tree nursery and collection center.

• Mahala binti Maharam. KOCP tree nursery and collection center.

The Pangi Swiftlet Recovery Team

This team is protecting the forest and the colonies of swiflets living in the caves of the Pangi limestone, one of the only patches of primary forest left in the floodplain. The birds are threatened by illegal harvesting of their nests that are used to produce edible nest soup.

• Johari bin Jamal. Assisting Ahmad to lead the team.

• Johari bin Junaidi. In charge of the first Pangi sub-camp.

• Fasland bin Udau. In charge of the second Pangi sub-camp and member of the KOCP Video Task Force.

• Mohamed Arnizam bin Arbani. In charge of the third Pangi sub-camp.

• Mohammad Hafizuddin bin Bibong. In charge of the fourth Pangi sub-camp.

• Mohamed Sufrieyan bin Jamil. In charge of the fifth Pangi sub-camps.

• Kamarul bin Asmara, Mohamed Raihan Rhasidi, Zulkarnain bin Jamal.

• Saifuladha bin Pastor, Iqbal Alif bin Jefrie, Mohamed Jamil bin Kastan.

• Aswndy Chow Jie Li, Mohamed Zairul Hisham bin Zaipri, Mustaqim bin Eram, Nazrin bin Mohamad Kadim.

The HUTAN Environmental Awareness Programme (HEAP)

The team is disseminating messages about conservation and sustainable use of our environment based on the findings of HUTAN’s efforts in the field.

• Haslan bin Saidal. In charge of the programmes undertaken within oil palm estates and villages.

• Amalina Binti Adenan. Who is passionate about learning.

• Noratika Bte Husir, or “Ika”. Who is in charge of environmental awareness with schools.

• Sharmila Aida Binti Datu Md Ahbam, the latest addition to the team.

• Mohd Fadil bin Ibrahim, and Datu Mohd Afiq bin Datu Md Ahbam, the two interns supporting HEAP activities.


• Masni binti Mansor and Rosnah. In charge of the HUTAN offices in Sukau.

• Darwis bin Abdul Mohd. Driver for the Reforestation Unit and in charge of the vehicle.

• Mhd Azizi Suhaiman bin Baharani. Who is looking after the HUTAN boats and the jetty.

• Shernytta Poloi, or “Shern”. Based in Kota Kinabalu, Shernytta is HUTAN administrator.

• Harjinder Kler works on sustainability issues with focus on oil palm particularly via the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil

• Miss Chok. The bookkeeper for our organization.