It has been 9 months since the last time we saw Mail. We had been conducting several expeditions to find him ever since , but we couldn’t get his signal. From those expeditions, we found Abbie instead, who happened to be across the Soh River, but unfortunately the river was flooded, so we couldn’t follow her further.
Last January, some Gaharu (agarwood) and bird nest collectors informed us that Mail had moved as far as three days trip by foot from our location. He was seen around Sepan riverbank. The place was further afield, so we decided not to observe him. In April, when we conducted an expedition to Kampung Punan, we got information that Mail was seen playing along Atip River. Unfortunately, it would take two to three hours by motorboat to reach Atip River from Kampung Punan. The team decided to call it off because the place was just too far. Instead, we started to collect information from the local people about the orangutan they saw in Atip River and compare it with our data about Mail’s characteristic and behavior. One day, when the team was doing their daily patrol, one of our technicians saw Mail crossing Soh River and moving towards our camp. We immediately checked his radio telemetry signal and apparently the chip implanted in his neck was still working properly. Mail was seen walking towards our camp while looking for food. He then crossed Lesik River behind the camp through the sling rope and settled himself on the hill accross the river. We assumed that maybe he hadn’t been able to find food in his territory, so he was happy to find abundance of fruit on the hill. Mail swung from one tree to another freely and happily, feasting on fruits such as Mahang (Macaranga sp.), Liana, Ficus sp., Artocarpus sp., and many others. He seemed to enjoy the moment. Reminiscing the old days, buddy?
The team followed Mail for several days to observe his improvements and behavior. The last time we saw him back in July 2012, he was still a small, cute orangutan. Now, he has grown into a mature orangutan with muscular body and growing beard. His roaming area is now getting larger, sometimes it makes us overwhelmed but excited at the same time.
Days went by and we lost him again after he ran really fast into a bush and we couldn’t find his path. But we didn’t give up and kept trying since most probably, Mail was still around. We just couldn’t locate him or detect him with the radio telemetry. Soon, our effort turned fruitful. After trying for a while we finally received radio telemetry signal from Mail. He was around Piapung, located across Soh River, 2.5 km away from our main camp. The team then crossed the Soh River to find Mail. And, there he was, enjoying young leaves of wild ginger. We continued to follow him, and after three days we went back to Camp 103 and left him to continue his food foraging alone. Just two days after we left, Mail was seen again across Lesik River, right behind our main camp. As of today, he is still under our observation.
Good to see you again, Mail! Stay healthy and keep growing gracefully!
Text by: Putri Wulansari, Post Release Monitoring Coordinator
Photos by: Deni Maulana and Awal Choirianto, PRM Technician