Samboja Lestari Orangutan Release (Day 2 – Final)

Today, Juminten and Titin finally joined their friend Leo in their true home, Kehje Sewen Forest.

While Leo was flown by helicopter directly from Samboja Lestari to Kehje Sewen, these two female orangutans must first travel by road on a truck to Sangatta, approximately 9 hours from Samboja Lestari. Accompanied by vet Agnes and seven technicians from Samboja Lestari, Juminten and Titin departed yesterday at 10.30 am and arrived at 7 pm in Sangatta where they stayed overnight in the transit enclosures at a compound belonging to PT Kaltim Prima Coal (KPC). They would be flown to Kehje Sewen the next day, which is today!

Preparation for Juminten and Titin

Today, since 6 am vet Agnes prepared Juminten and Titin for their departure to Kehje Sewen. Assisted by the technicians, vet Agnes sedated Juminten and Titin so they could be moved from the transit enclosures to their travel cages. The technicians of course did not forget to prepare plenty of fruits for Juminten and Titin as snacks during the journey.

IMG-20130415-WA0000

Sedation Process

Preparing the Snacks for Juminten and Titin

Preparing the Snacks for Juminten and Titin

The travel cages were then transported by truck to the airport, which is located around 20 minutes from KPC. The Bell 412 helicopter owned by National Utility Helicopter (NUH) was already waiting there, ready to deliver Juminten and Titin to their forest home.

Moving the Cages

Loading Juminten and Titin onto the Helicopter

On this flight, Juminten and Titin were accompanied by vet Agnes and Ferdy, a technician from Samboja Lestari. Ferdy was seen occasionally feeding Juminten, who started to look irritated in her travel cage, with some peanuts to calm her down.

Ferdy, gave some peanuts to calm her down

Ferdy, Gave Some Peanuts to Calm Her Down

Good News from Kehje Sewen

Although Kehje Sewen was hit again by heavy rain last night, this morning our team in Kehje Sewen reported happy tidings that the weather was quite clear. The Lesik River that flooded yesterday had gradually subsided. There was still some visible haze north of the helipad at Camp 103, but eventually it was replaced by clear blue sky.

Perfect Weather in Kehje Sewen

Perfect Weather in Kehje Sewen

In Sangatta, the helicopter carrying Juminten, Titin, vet Agnes and Ferdy took off at 9.10 am. At 9.55 am, it successfully landed on the helipad at Camp 103 in Kehje Sewen. The flight was smooth without a hitch.

Off to Kehje Sewen!

Off to Kehje Sewen!

The team in Kehje Sewen was ready for the arrival of Juminten and Titin. They immediately began unloading. Juminten’s travel cage was the first to be unloaded and taken to the sling at the riverbank of Lesik, followed by Titin’s travel cage.

Safely Landed in Kehje Sewen!

Safely Landed in Kehje Sewen!

The crossing process of these two travel cages by sling across Lesik River went effortlessly. They were then taken by car to the second crossing point at Lembu River. After successfully crossing Lembu River – also by sling – Juminten and Titin were finally transported by another car to the pre-designated release points.

Preparing Titin to Cross the River

Preparing Titin to Cross the River

Juminten, Ready to Cross the River

Juminten, Ready to Cross the River

Opening the Cages!

Titin was released approximately 50 meters away from Leo’s release point, while Juminten was reintroduced at some distance from Titin. Both of these female orangutans’ travel cages were opened by Dr. Aldrianto Priadjati, RHOI Deputy Director of Conservation, assisted by Eko Prasetyo, RHOI Orangutan Rescue Coordinator. Juminten’s travel cage was opened at 2.10 pm, while Titin’s was opened 10 minutes later. Once their travel cages were opened, each of them walked on the forest floor for the first few seconds before finally choosing a tree. Then they immediately climbed each of their chosen trees with joy!

Opening Titin's Cage

Opening Titin’s Cage

Enjoy the Forest, Juminten!

Enjoy the Forest, Juminten!

A touching story behind this release was shared by Gozali (nicknamed Jali), a technician from Samboja Lestari who helped carry the two female orangutans’ travel cages to their release points. Jali witnessed young Juminten and Leo when they were rescued from a huge forest fire in East Kalimantan in 1997-1998. As a member of the rescue team that saved Leo and Juminten, Jali confessed how moved he was seeing Leo and Juminten turning into independent adults and now living freely in their true home. That is why Jali had insisted to participate in this release, just so he could watch his two best friends taste their freedom.

They're Home!

Juminten Started to Enjoy the Canopy!

Titin

You’re Finally Home, Titin!

The Difference Between East and Central Kalimantan

Unlike orangutan releases from the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Reintroduction Program in Central Kalimantan that could reintroduce orangutans by the dozens at once, the Samboja Lestari Orangutan Reintroduction Program in East Kalimantan this time could only release three orangutans due to a much more difficult terrain.

Landscape in Central Kalimantan is generally flat and dominated by peatland forests. While in East Kalimantan, the typical forest type is rainforest that grows in hilly areas, bordered by large rapid white-water rivers that are prone to flooding. Therefore the orangutan releases in East Kalimantan have a high level of complexity and the cost is also very high.

It is our hope that our reintroduction efforts continue to gain support from various parties, especially financial, transportation and logistical support, so that more East Kalimantan rehabilitated orangutans could join Leo and his friends in the wild.

They are Finally Home

Finally, the Samboja Lestari orangutan release activity was completed. Leo, Juminten and Titin are now home in the Kehje Sewen Forest.

Enjoy your true freedom high in the canopy, dear Leo, Juminten and Titin! We will keep a close eye on you.

Text by: Monica Devi Krisnasari – BOSF Communications Assistant

Samboja Lestari Orangutan Release (Day 1)

Starting today the BOS Foundation at Samboja Lestari releases three orangutans into Kehje Sewen forest. Since morning, the whole team is ready for this activity. The Samboja Lestari medical team began the process of sedation at 6 AM. Leo, the only male orangutan release candidate, got the first turn to be sedated because he will be the first candidate sent to the forest.

Sedation Process by the Medical Team and Technician

Leo was then loaded onto a travel cage then transported to Kehje Sewen by Bell 412 Helicopter owned by PT. National Utility Helicopters (NUH). Leo was accompanied by drh. Agus Irwanto and one technician from Samboja Lestari. The flight was expected to reach Kehje Sewen in 1 hour and 50 minutes.

Meanwhile, Juminten and Titin were transported to Sangatta by car. They both will take an overnight in transit cages located in Kaltim Prima Coal and fly to Kehje Sewen by helicopter the next day. Juminten and Titin will be accompanied by drh. Agnes and seven technicians from Samboja Lestari.

Juminten, being sedated

Unexpected news came from Kehje Sewen. Last night, there was a heavy rain in Kehje Sewen resulting the flooded Lesik River and a small landslide behind the Camp 103. The rain was eventually stopped this morning but Kehje Sewen was still covered in thick fog. This caused a very low visibility and dangerous for Leo’s flight. The team was continuously monitoring the weather to ensure the departure towards Kehje Sewen.

Thick Fog Covered Kehje Sewen

Thankfully, the weather was gradually getting better. The drizzle stopped and the thick fog that covered Kehje Sewen faded away. Leo was ready to be flown to his home! At 7:45 AM, the helicopter departed towards Kehje Sewen.

Leo Departed to Kehje Sewen

At 09:30 AM, the helicopter carrying Leo was successfully landed on the helipad in Camp 103. The whole team that has been waiting was then swiftly transporting the cage to the sling located over the Lesik River just behind the Camp 103.

RHOI Team Took Out the Transport Cage

Crossing the travel cage through the Lesik River is definitely not an easy task. Accuracy and carefulness were needed for the orangutan safety. We will do everything to make sure Leo is safe and he can enjoy the forest immediately! Finally, the team managed to cross Leo through the Lesik River although the team noticed Leo was trying so hard to pull the strap out of the cage.

Tighten the Straps Before Crossing It

Tighten the Straps Before Crossing It

Leo, Inside the Cage, Crossing the Rushing Lesik River

Leo, Inside the Cage, Crossing the Rushing Lesik River

After successfully crossing the Lesik River, Leo then transported by car to the release point, located in the banks of Lembu River. When finally got there, Leo was ferried for the second time to the other side of Lembu River. The technician put the transport cage in around 150 m from the river edge. It was 3 PM when the cage was opened, Leo was immediately stepped out and climbed to the nearest tree. Everybody was so happy to be able to witness the true freedom of Leo. Congratulation, Leo! Enjoy your freedom!

Enjoy the Forest, Leo!

Enjoy the Forest, Leo!

How about Juminten and Titin? Just now, we received news about them. They both have arrived safely in Sangatta, taking an overnight rest. We do hope that tomorrow, the weather will be good so the flight for them towards Kehje Sewen can run smoothly.

Text by: Monica Devi Krisnasari – BOSF Communications Assistant

Press Release: The BOS Foundation at Samboja Lestari Releases Three Orangutans

[LOWRES] SL Release Candidates 14 Apr 2013-1

In conjunction with the Earth Day commemoration which is observed worldwide on April 22, the Borneo Orangutan Survival (BOS) Foundation at Samboja Lestari releases another three East Kalimantan orangutans, after successfully releasing six orangutans to their natural habitat one year ago.

Samboja, East Kalimantan, April 14 – 15, 2013. Today three orangutans consisting of one male (Leo) and two females (Juminten and Titin) are commencing their journey back to the forest. Leo will be flown by a helicopter from the BOS Foundation Orangutan Reintroduction Program at Samboja Lestari to the Kehje Sewen Forest in Kutai Timur and Kutai Kartanegara Regencies, and Juminten and Titin will follow by helicopter on April 15 after making the first part of the journey by road to the transit enclosures at PT. Kaltim Prima Coal, and to be released in pre-designated release points by the banks of Lembu River.

The Kehje Sewen Forest is an Ecosystem Restoration Concession (ERC) managed by PT Restorasi Habitat Orangutan Indonesia (RHOI), a company that was established by the BOS Foundation on April 21, 2009, solely to acquire the right to use and manage a forest which is desperately needed to release rehabilitated orangutans from the BOS Foundation Orangutan Reintroduction Center at Samboja Lestari.

This release event involves the collaboration of all stakeholders, including the Coordinating Ministry for People’s Welfare, East Kalimantan Provincial Government, Kutai Kartanegara and East Kutai Regency Governments, East Kalimantan Conservation and Natural Resources Authority, and the people of Kutai Kartanegara and Kutai Timur. The BOS Foundation would also like to convey their gratitude for the moral, financial and logistical supports from private sectors such as Bank Central Asia (BCA), PT. National Utility Helicopters and PT. Kaltim Prima Coal, as well as individual donors, partner organizations and other conservation organizations across the globe who are concerned with orangutan conservation in Indonesia.

The Coordinating Minister for People’s Welfare, dr. H. R. Agung Laksono, who attends the event said, “The people of Indonesia must maintain orangutans in their natural forest habitat. Humans need the forest which acts as our natural sustenance, either to prevent flood, land erotion, and as the lungs of the world, and orangutans are part of that natural ecosystem. I feel honored and fortunate to be able to attend this event, because this is a true example of how the different stakeholders work together to protect and preserve the forest, for the sake of long term human welfare and long-term conservation.”

Along with the Coordinating Minister for People’s Welfare, East Kalimantan Vice Governor Drs. H. Farid Wadjdy, M.Pd. also attends the ceremony. In addition to Earth Day commemoration, the Minister and state officials also show their support towards the land rehabilitation program at Samboja Lestari by planting trees.

The Director General of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation (PHKA) of the Ministry of Forestry Ir. Darori Wonodipuro, M.M. also stated, “When we talk about orangutans, which are protected by law, the responsibility to protect them and ensure their sustainability rests with all Indonesian people without exception. And this should not be forgotten and must always be applied in the management of our land in Indonesia. All parties, including the central and local governments must refer to the legal boundaries and processes, as well as implementing a strict obligation to maintain and preserve the environment.”

Adding to the Minister’s and the Director General’s statements, Drs. H. Farid Wadjdy, M.Pd. said, “The commitment of the Provincial Government has not changed. We still closely work together with the BOS Foundation, the Regency Governments, and other stakeholders in the effort of allocating more lands for ecosystem restoration concessions, especially to provide suitable habitat for orangutans. We also collaborate with the East Kalimantan Conservation and Natural Resources Authority to increase the activities of monitoring, surveillance, and law enforcement at the remaining habitat in East Kalimantan. This is in accordance with the Kaltim Green Program ran by the East Kalimantan Provincial Government.”

Successful orangutan reintroduction programs need to continue in order to return displaced orangutans back to natural habitat and achieve the target stated on the Indonesian Orangutan Conservation Strategy and Action Plan 2007- 2017. The Action Plan was launched by the President of the Republic of Indonesia during the Climate Change Conference in Bali, 2007. It states that all eligible orangutans in rehabilitation centers should be released by 2015, and this has been validated by all levels of government, including the provincial and regency levels.

“We will continue to strive to meet the release target set by the government. However, our release activities will need to be supported by suitable forest availability which will serve as habitat for the orangutans. In this case we desperately need the realisation of the local governments’ commitments, especially East Kutai and Kutai Kartanegara Regency Governments,” said Dr. Jamartin SihiteCEO of the BOS Foundation.

Aschta Boestani TajudinSamboja Lestari Program Manager said, “There are still 173 rehabilitated orangutans who are healthy and meet the release requirements waiting in Samboja Lestari to be released to their natural habitat. Also, we have 59 orangutans who will never be able to be released back into the wild due to disabilities they sustained during their displacement and capture – these orangutans are now waiting for land allocation as a sanctuary in order to be able to also live in nature.”

In conjunction with the upcoming Earth Day onApril 22, the release of these three orangutans is an appeal to all stakeholders to realize orangutan conservation efforts for the sustainable welfare and future of all living beings on earth.

One Day to the Orangutan Release

As previously planned, tomorrow morning (4/14) the BOS Foundation will reintroduce 3 orangutans from Orangutan Reintroduction Center at Samboja Lestari into Kehje Sewen forest, a natural forest in East Kutai Regency leased by RHOI for the specific purpose as an orangutan release site.

All of the preparations to support this activity have been carried out since the earlier days, either by the BOS Foundation and RHOI team who stayed in Kehje Sewen forest. The temporary camp (flying camp) and a simple bridge have been built since last March in the forest. Yesterday (4/12), the BOS Foundation and RHOI team have already arrived in Kehje Sewen after traveling since the day before.

The Journey Begins

As usual, the trip to Kehje Sewen is started from Jabdan Village, Muara Wahau towards Pelangsiran. After resting overnight in Pelangsiran, the journey to Kehje Sewen was resumed.

The less friendly weather in Kehje Sewen recently was admittedly made it difficult enough for the team to reach Kehje Sewen. The floods over the 88 river that flows along the main road towards Kehje Sewen made it impassable by car. Therefore the team was forced to travel as far as 23 km on foot to get to the Camp 103. The journey started at 08:30 in the morning and they arrived at 07:45 in the night.

The Team Crossing the Flooded River
Photo by: Iwan Pribadi

The Team Took a Rest during the Journey to Camp 103
Photo by: Iwan Pribadi

The other Preparation

This morning, the team continued the preparation of the orangutan release. In addition to continuously reporting the actual weather of Kehje Sewen forest to the team that will transport the orangutan from Samboja Lestari, they also carefully check the orangutan transport sling and work for the other preparations.

Meanwhile, a number of food and basic necessities for the whole team who stay in Kehje Sewen was sent from Balikpapan with the Bell 412 helicopter owned by the National Utility Helicopter (NUH). The helicopter that is also flying the team from BOS Australia and the 60 Minutes film crew who will document the activity of the orangutan release, departed from Balikpapan at 09.10 in the morning and landed on the Camp 103 helipad at 12.10 noon after previously refueling in Muara Wahau.

The Bell 412 Landed in Camp 103
Photo by: Jamartin Sihite

Checking the Sling
Photo by: Iwan Pribadi

The whole preparation for this orangutan release activities will not be successful without the teamwork and the continuous support to each other. Therefore, this morning the team held a simple ceremony to celebrate all the phase that has been passed as well as to pray for the tomorrow’s release. Hopefully, the release activity will run smoothly without significant obstacles.

A Simple Ceremony
Photo by: Iwan Pribadi

Text by: Monica Devi Krisnasari – BOSF Communications Assistant

Samboja Lestari Orangutan Release Candidate Profiles

In the near future, orangutan population in Kehje Sewen forest will increase. There are at least three rehabilitated orangutan from Orangutan Reintroduction Center at Samboja Lestari who will be reintroduced into the forest on April 14, 2013. They are Juminten, Leo and Titin. Here are their profiles.

Juminten

Rescued from an industrial forest owned by PT Surya Hutani Jaya (SHJ) in Sebulu on the border of Kutai National Park, Juminten at that time was only 6-7 years old. At this age, orangutans in the wild are considered teenagers as they are usually already independent from their mothers. The female teenager Juminten was found in a block of industrial acacia trees and was taken to BOS Foundation’s rehabilitation center in Samboja on April 12, 1998.

Following initial health checks Juminten needed initial medical treatment. In 2010 Juminten was moved to a pre-released island where she met Leo. The two have been courting for a while now. An interesting note about Juminten is that she is often seen lovingly babysitting and taking care of another female orangutan’s baby when the mother is unwell. Juminten is now a beautiful 21 year-old and is as wild as ever. And her time has finally come to return to the wild where she belongs!

Leo

Leo is a male orangutan who was rescued when he was aged 4-5 years old from Sebulu, one of the areas in East Kalimantan which was devastated by forest fires in 1997/1998. He was taken to Wanariset-Samboja (previous name of Samboja Lestari) on September 26, 1997. Leo demonstrated very wild behavior indicating that he had not had much contact with humans. After spending quite some time in a socialization enclosure, Leo was finally relocated to a pre-release island, Island 3, in 2009. Leo immediately embraced life on the island wholeheartedly. He adjusted quickly and was soon actively climbing trees, making nests, and demonstrating his ability to find forest foods.

In 2010, we introduced Leo to some females – Eliza, Mona and Juminten. Again, he showed encouraging behavior and was very gentle and playful in his approach to them. Leo was obviously attracted to Juminten, but with Mona and Eliza, he played  more of a big brother role. Leo’s progress has convinced us that he is ready for a life in a real forest.  Now at 20 years old, the handsome male with huge cheek-pads is soon going home!

Titin

Titin is a female orangutan who first came to Samboja Lestari on March 9, 1994. Rescued in the capital of East Kalimantan, Samarinda, she was 4-5 years old. In 2000, Titin delivered a baby boy, Titon who lived with his mother until he was 7 years old. After Titon was moved to be with orangutans his own age, in 2008, Titin had her second baby – a baby girl this time – named Tina-Toon. At the end of 2010, Titin and her daughter Tina-Toon were moved to a pre-released island, joining Leo and Juminten among others.

Now that Tina-Toon has left her mother to join Forest School, Titin seems to progress a lot quicker in terms of developing her forest skills. Although she is not as dominant as Juminten, on the island Titin is second in command. However, Titin does not show repressive behavior towards younger orangutans on the island. She is generally a kind orangutan who also has an on-and-off love interest with Leo which Juminten does not seem to mind at all. Her island life has been good and rewarding. But at the age of 23 years old, Titin will soon embark on her final journey home.