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Episode 42: The Cave Punan

Deep in the forests of Borneo, lives a society of hunter-gatherers who speak a language never before shared with outsiders. Until now.

The Cave Punan are the last surviving hunter-gatherers in Indonesia and they have reached out for help to save their forest home and their culture.

In 2018, Leakey Foundation grantee Steve Lansing was invited by the elected leader of the Punan in Borneo to meet the Cave Punan. He soon learned of the Cave Punan’s unique song language and their urgent need to protect their forest from illegal palm oil plantations. They asked for his help to share their story and save their forest. 

Steve Lansing and his Indonesian colleagues are now working with local organizations on a plan to support the Cave Punan.

Origin Stories is the first media outlet to share their story and their songs. We hope you will share this podcast with your friends to help raise awareness of the Cave Punan and their plight.

Additional Information

Visit our blog to see photos and videos of the Cave Punan.

Read more about Steve Lansing’s research on his website.

Steve Lansing would like to thank his colleagues at the Eijkman Institute of Molecular Biology in Indonesia.

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Origin Stories is a project of The Leakey Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to funding human origins research and outreach. Support this show and the science we talk about with a tax-deductible donation. Help us raise money to pay teachers to create lesson plans and activities based on this podcast. 

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Host and Producer: Meredith Johnson

Editor: Audrey Quinn

Theme Music: Henry Nagle

Additional Music:

Lee Rosevere “Tech Toys“, and music from Blue Dot Sessions.


This season of Origin Stories is made possible by support from Diana McSherry, Jeanne Newman, Camilla Smith, and donors like you!

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