Shortly after finishing her degree at Brunel University, Indonesian alumna Ulung Putri Ambang Panglima was commissioned by Kompas TV to write and produce a documentary focused on the endangered orangutans of Indonesia.

Having just premiered in March as a five-part film, Orangutan Journey follows the lives of three red apes and their daily challenges in Camp Leakey, Tanjung Puting. The survival of the orangutans relies heavily on the hard work of the Orangutan Foundation International (OFI) who has been dedicated to the conservation of the red apes and their habitat. In this documentary, Ulung Putri comes face to face with these three heroes facing their biggest threat yet: the conversion of their forest to a palm oil plantation.


In her interview, Ulung talks about Orangutan Journey as well as her Chevening experience.

What does being a Chevening Scholar mean to you?

It means a ‘pause’ after a ‘fast-forward’ life. As a journalist, I am always on a deadline. While studying, it was a luxury for me to be able to dive into books, journals, and new knowledge. To be able to challenge great minds through paper works, projects, and dissertation, has given me a new level of satisfaction.

What was your impression of the UK before you went to study there and what did you think of it afterwards?

It’s always been my dream place to study for a master degree. I have experienced living in the UK before while accompanying my mother to study in Canterbury, Kent in 1997. Since then I’ve fell [sic] in love with the country. I like the people and quickly adapted to the education system. When I got accepted in Brunel University, I was totally enjoying ‘my London life’. The British humour, the tube, and the smell of dark roast Robusta (coffee) in the street are what I miss the most about London.

How has the Chevening Scholarship helped you in your career?

It has helped to boost my confidence in facing challenges at work. During my study I was so much [sic] excited on [sic] how we were taught to build and strengthen arguments. This is critical in my job as a journalist. We have to cover both sides in our coverage without losing our own perspective.

Please tell us about your current job role.

Other than wandering around in the best rainforest ever? I am a documentary producer and scriptwriter. Currently, I am producing a travel and nature documentary programme for Kompas TV. Kompas TV is a national TV station based in Jakarta.

As one of the producers of Orangutan Journey, can you tell us what inspires you and what were the challenges in making this movie?

The inspiration came from everything that I watched on Animal Planet and BBC Earth. It amazes me how a documentary (especially nature documentary) can reveal so many things on earth. Including the relationship between nature and human. After graduating from Brunel University, an executive at Kompas TV offered me to create [sic] a nature documentary which focuses on the life of Indonesian endangered species. That’s how we came with the orangutan story.

The hardest part was when following the orangutans in the forest in such short time. It required so much patient [sic] and persistence in chasing the golden moment such as meeting the biggest male orangutan and following him without making any noise. It was exhausted [sic] yet I was fascinated by the life of the red ape deep in the jungle.

Watch a preview of Orangutan Journey: