OHP Staff

The project is led by Ivona Foitova, a Veterinary Doctor from the Czech Republic with a PhD in Wildlife Disease. The project employs several Indonesian Field Assistants at research sites in Sumatra and Kalimantan, as well as local guides for the project’s monthly volunteer program. All staff at the project base are also local Indonesians. By employing only local staff, the project provides important financial support to people in the immediate community and in the areas neighbouring each of the research sites.

The project’s monthly volunteer program offers international volunteers the opportunity to join the project for a two-week period, providing valuable assistance to the project through the gathering of data on overnight expeditions in the rainforest and by assisting with basic but necessary tasks back at the project base. In addition to monthly volunteers, OHP relies on the assistance of volunteer Project Coordinators and Assistants (generally volunteering with the project from three to six months, but sometimes longer) to keep the project running smoothly locally, while Ivona conducts work back in the Czech Republic, including important research and data analysis.


Dr. Ivona Foitova Ph.D., Founder of OHP and Principal Investigator

For more than 2017 years Ivona has been extremely interested in diseases called zoonosis – diseases common to people and animals. Her special field of investigation is zoonosis and parasitological diseases in Orangutans - a species of Great Apes which are genetically very closely related to ourselves. Ivona believes in the hypothesis of self-medication behaviour and her studies relate to questions about this hypothesis. She believes that we can learn a lot from the study of nature and the wild animals living in its midst.

Head Guide, Wanda

Wanda has been a guide, taking people into the rainforest, for 18 years. He became a guide because he loves the jungle and enjoys meeting people from different countries. In 2001, Wanda met Ivona through a mutual friend in Bukit Lawang and they became friends, which eventually led to Ivona asking Wanda to join the OHP team. Through his work with OHP, Wanda not only learned a great deal about orangutans, but about other wildlife in the rainforest, as well, and he was able to broaden his knowledge of many of the plants and trees in the rainforest and their medicinal properties. His favourite animal in the rainforest is the mosquito!

Wanda says: ”My most memorable experience working for OHP was when we were followed by a Sumatran tiger. We heard growling and roaring on three different days. It was following and watching us. We did not finish the trip and had to return to town. I love everything about the jungle. I love the power of the jungle. My wish is that people who come here will realise that to save the rainforest, they must first look after the people in the area and help the local economy. In that way the local people will be educated and will not need to make money by cutting down more of the rainforest.”


Mami: Base House Cook

Mami, a local resident, has been employed by the project since 1999. Mami comes in everyday to cook and clean the accommodation. She cooks local Indonesian food, which is mostly spicy, and provides 3 meals a day for the volunteers (breakfast, lunch & dinner). Although she speaks very little English, you can generally get an understanding of what she is saying through hand gestures. She is very friendly and will always happily try and talk to you.

Arel: House maitenance and security

He lives at Coconut Island in a separate house just further down the track, meaning he is always just a short distance away if there are any emergencies. He maintains Coconut Island, repairing and fixing things when needed as well as getting water and cooking gas from bohorok.

Project assistants