The Orang Utan Republik Foundation was first founded in October 2004 as the Orang Utan Republik Education Initiative (OUREI). OUREI began its mission as a project under Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs (SEE) to save wild orangutans from extinction through education and outreach programs. In 2007, the Orang Utan Republik Foundation (OURF) was incorporated to continue its mission as a tax-exempt organization. In addition to funding its Education Initiative, OURF also supports a Conservation Initiative through its field operations in Sumatra.
Most wild orangutans are found in the country of Indonesia. The orangutan's forest habitat in that country is declining rapidly due to large-scale conversion and poor forest management. Orangutans are dying in the process from causes both immediate (killed as pests or for pets) and gradual (increased competition or starvation). Therefore, in order for the orangutan to be saved from extinction, local Indonesians must become aware of the unique qualities of orangutans, their need for forest habitat to survive, the laws protecting them, and the consequences of illegally buying, selling or owning them. Ultimately, Indonesians must come to value orangutans and other wildlife that live in their country. This will come about through effective and continuous education combined with outreach campaigns conducted by the Indonesians themselves that move and inspire their society to insure the orangutan's long-term survival.
At the same time, people outside the habitat countries need to come to better appreciate the orangutan and its role in the tropical ecosystem. OURF, therefore, targets both local and international audiences in programs of conservation education regarding the species and its threatened habitat.