Marc Ancrenaz

Date of birth:


Place of birth:

France (Antony, Paris’ suburb)

Education History:

Marc is the scientific director of the French NGO Hutan and co-director of the Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Project, a community-based programme active in wildlife research, conservation and community development in Sabah since 1996. He is a scientific adviser for the Sabah Wildlife Department. Before moving to Sabah in 1998, he worked for four years as the Head of the Mammal and Veterinary Departments at the "National Wildlife Research Center" for the National Commission for Wildlife Con

Organisation you work for:

Hutan - Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Programme

Position title:


How did you get into the work you do presently?

We created this project in 1998 following a visit to the State of Sabah in 1995. Then, we realized that orangutans were living in degraded habitats throughout the State, which was widely unknown at this time. So we decided to create a research project in order to investigate whether and how orangutans could adapt to habitat degradation.

We realised very quickly that although good conservation practices must be based on solid science, scientific research is not enough to achieve good conservation results. In order to contribute to protecting and saving the orangutans living in Kinabatangan and in Sabah, we thus switch our scientific approach to a more holistic one by incorporating the needs and aspirations of the local communities we are working with. Today, our team is made up with about 50 local research assistants, all hailing from the villages. They are active in orangutan and elephant research and conflict mitigation, law enforcement (Wildlife Wardens), education and awareness (HEAP), community development

Describe the main aspects of your work:

Three major parts:
  1. While in Kota Kinabalu: a lot of computer work (grant writing but also writing up Plans, scientific articles, emails, data analaysis, etc) and a lot of meetings with state agencies and other partners we are collaborating with.
  2. While in the field: my time is shared between human management of the different teams that are operating under Hutan; training, data collection while I’m following elephants or orangutans or when we are conducting biodiversity assessments.
  3. While traveling overseas: mostly delivering oral presentations about our activities and OU in Borneo; meeting with partners and journalists, etc

What do you like best about your job?

The possibility to meet with all kinds of people from all over the world, with different aspirations and views about conservation. I really enjoy spending time with the KOCP teams of RAs who are all originating from the villages. I also love to be in the forest enjoying the close proximity of orangutans, elephants and all kinds of wildlife that is roaming free in the forest.

I also greatly enjoy the fact that not a single day of my life is similar to the next. This work is full of surprises! However it is also highly frustrating to see that despite all our efforts, destruction of the rainforest and animals is still going on!