A New Life for the Big Three

It has been two weeks since Leo, Juminten and Titin are enjoying the beauty of the nature in Kehje Sewen Forest. Since being reintruduced last April 14, 2013, they started to adapt with the real forest life. It was the first time we released adult orangutans in East Kalimantan after releasing six juveniles last year. So it is crucial to closely monitor the adaptation of the “Big Three” in their new home.

Leo, the Ruler!

Among the three orangutans, Leo is the only male. He has quickly become the ruler in the forest around Lembu River, the place where they were reintroduced. Leo was off to a slow start, though. For the first three days, he wasn’t eating very much. But soon after that, Leo immediately showed his ability to adapt to a new place. He began to discover the area of Lembu River by swinging from one tree to another and started to try diferent kinds of food. He also flawlessly built a nest to rest when the sun set. It was an excellent start for King Leo!

Leo, enjoying the true forest

Leo, enjoying the true forest

The Post Release Monitoring (PRM) Team has also started nest-to-nest monitoring activity. In the beginning, following Leo was not easy because he looked uncomfortable, continuosly kiss squeaking and throwing twigs to the team who followed him. It is obvious that Leo doesn’t like to be surrounded by humans. So we reduced the number of observers in the team to only three people per orangutan (before, we dispatched more people for backup just in case Leo became aggressive). Now Leo is calmer and seems to be habituated with the observers. Leo has traveled around 700 meters from his release point. Radio telemetry signal indicates that Leo is continuosly moving away from the release point. It is becoming harder to follow him, not because he is kiss squeaking but because he is moving so quikcly!

Leo looks uncomfortable to be surrounded by humans

Leo looks uncomfortable to be surrounded by humans

Juminten, the Best Graduate!

How about Juminten? The PRM Team dubbed her “The Best Graduate” of this reintroduction group. After spending 15 years at Samboja Lestari and learned forest skills only through the rehabilitation process at Forest School and on Orangutan Island, Juminten showed impressive ability to adapt in a real forest.

By the second day after being reintroduced, her roaming range had reached 200-300 meters from the release point. It is typical for female orangutan rehabilitants not to travel too far from their release points. So Juminten’s range is normal and in fact indicates her marvelous confidence in exploring her new environment.

Loving the new 'home', Juminten?

Loving the new ‘home’, Juminten?

Juminten has also tried so many types of food confidently. She tried the fruit of Lithocarpus sp, or commonly known as Stoned Oak (Tanoak). Lithocarpus is a genus in the Beech Wood family. Its fruit looks like a chestnut. Juminten had never seen this kind of fruit before, because it can’t be found in Forest School nor on Orangutan Island. After enjoying the fruit for a couple of days, it became her favourite. Good job, Juminten!

Apart from her excellent knowledge of forest food, Juminten is a distungished nest maker. In one day, Juminten can build two to three nests. Her morning nest is usually built at around 7 or 8 am. She makes this nest for her sanctuary to relax in the morning sun. Let’s just say, Juminten enjoys sunbathing! At around 1 or 2 pm, she makes another nest for her afternoon nap. And in the evening, she makes another nest for her night rest. Her nest-building ability equals to the ability of a wild orangutan that also usually makes two to three nests a day.

Juminten swinging between trees

Juminten swinging between trees

Titin, the Laid back One!

Titin’s character is slightly different from her friends. Within the first three days, Titin had explored her surrounding area but not as extensively as Juminten did. She also seems to be more cautious when it comes to food. Until now, Titin sticks to what she knows, such as ginger and a few other types of food she learned in Forest School. The PRM Team plans to keep a close eye on Titin. If her eating patterns put her health and well being in jeopardy in any way, we may need to help by giving her food supplements. We did this in Central Kalimantan to one of our released female orangutans until she was nursed back to health and gained her confidence in eating more variety of forest food. Let’s pray this will not be the case with Titin and that she will always be fine.

This is why the Monitoring Program is very important. Monitoring and data collection must be conducted intensively for at least one year, and results will be used as references for future releases. Good luck Leo, Juminten and Titin! Keep learning and we hope you will soon settle comfortably in the wild Kehje Sewen Forest. Don’t worry, we are watching over you!

Text by: drh. Agus Irwanto and Putri Wulan Sari (RHOI PRM Coordinator)

Photos by: Putri Wulan Sari