The colonial Dutch government gazetted an area of land now occupied by Tanjung Puting as two wildlife reserves in the late 1 930s. Their protection continued following Indonesia’s independence in 1949.
The two protected areas were combined in 1978 to form the 305,000-hectare Tanjung Puting Wildlife Reserve, which was subsequently declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1981. With the help of the Canadian conservationist Biruté Galdikas it became a national park three years later It was increased to its current size-416.000 hectares-in 1996, when the Minister of Forestry added two expired logging concessions to the western and southern sides.
As a National park Tanjung Puting is protected under Indonesian law as a biological reserve of the country’s fauna and flora and it is considered a national asset. The park is managed from headquarters in Pangkalan Bun, which reports to the Directorate General of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation in the Ministry of Forests and Natural Resources in Jakarta. At the time of writing there are 93 staff, 47 of whom are forestry rangers, known locally as jagawana.
Tanjung Puting became famous for being the first site in Indonesian Borneo for the study of wild orangutans, which was started by Galdikas in 1971 see opposite). Today it is Central Kalimantan’s premier tourist destination.