Team at the research station

Dr. Caroline Schuppli

Caroline is a postdoctoral researcher from the  Department of Anthropology at the University of Zürich, Switzerland and the University of Leipzig, Germany. She is directing the SUAQ project and the research activities of the AIM at Suaq. Caroline studies the learning behavior of immature orangutans as well as the acquisition and transmission of cultural repertoires. Caroline is also the president of the board of the SUAQ foundation.


Subhan is the local SOCP camp manager of the Suaq monitoring station. He has joined the Suaq team in early 2017 and is in charge of the on-site administrative management of the station since mid 2017.

Julia Mörchen

Julia is a PhD student from the University of Leipzig, the MPI for evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and from Department of Anthropology at the University of Zürich (AIM), Switzerland. Julia is collecting data on the Suaq orangutans for her PhD project on cultural transmission through migrating unflanged male orangutans in the wild.


Fikar is senior SUAQ field assistant at the Suaq monitoring station. He has been working at Suaq as a field assistant since 2007. Apart from taking orangutan behavioral data, Fikars expertise lies in technical tasks. At camp, he spends his free time carving or making hand-made fish traps.


Armas is SUAQ senior field assistants at Suaq. He has started working at Suaq in 2007 as a cook and then switched to being an assistant in 2009. Armas takes excellent orangutan behavioral data and with his quiet nature he has a special eye for details. Armas is taking good care of the more junior assistants and also helps training new students.


Adami is a SUAQ junior field assistant at the Suaq monitoring station. He has joined the Suaq team in early 2016. At camp Adami likes to help out in the kitchen and makes the best fried bananas of all.


Saidi is working at the Suaq monitoring station as a SUAQ junior field assistant. Suaq assistant team in early 2016. Saidi is one our most successful orangutan finders and is always contagiously motivated and cheerful.


Ulil has first been at Suaq in 2011, when he was only a teenager. He has then worked at Suaq as a temporary helper multiple times. Ulil was always very motivated and during his time as a helper already learned the basics of our orangutan data collection protocoll. In 2019 Ulil then jouned the SUAQ team as a the youngest junior field assistant. Ulils always takes data meticuousely and is also great with the laser camera which we use to measure the orangutans.

Pak Rustam

Pak Rustam is the SOCP cook at the Suaq monitoring station. Famous for his delicious fish curries, he is treating the team every day with simple but delicious meals. He also has a watchful eye on everybody at camp, making sure that the whole team stays healthy and happy. Pak Rustam regularly goes into the forest to collect plants and herbs to supplement the camp meals. Pak Rustam has been working at Suaq since 2007.


Lillis works as cook and boat driver for SOCP. Once a week he brings up supplies from the village with the camp speed boat. Lillis has started at Suaq in 2016 as a forest helper, then became a helper cook and since 2019 he has joined the Suaq monitoring station on a fixed position.

Pak Samsuar

Pak Samsuar is involved in coording logistics and other activites of the Suaq research station. Being based at the village, Pak Samsuar is also helping us to keep a constant dialogue with the local villages.

Behind the scenes

Prof. Dr. Carel van Schaik

Carel was the Director of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Zürich, Switzerland (AIM) for 15 years. Carel has founded the Suaq monitoring station in 1993 and has since then studied the behavior and biology of the Suaq orangutans. Carel is a member of the board of the SUAQ foundation and contributes his vast knowledge and long-term experience of working with orangutans and at Suaq Balimbing to the project.

Dr. Matthew Nowak

Matt is employed by the Swiss PanEco foundation and is stationed in Medan as manager of the research activities and monitoring of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program (SOCP). He is responsible for the management of SOCP’s four research stations Jantho, Sikundur, Batang Toru and Suaq and coordinates the activities  of researchers at the stations. Matt publishes in the name of SOCP in the areas of behavior and population of the Sumatran orangutans, biodiversity of the habitats of Sumatran orangutans and conservation measures.