[PRESS RELEASE] The First Cross-Province Orangutan Reintroduction

THE FIRST CROSS-PROVINCE ORANGUTAN REINTRODUCTION

from the BOS Foundation Orangutan Reintroduction Center, Nyaru Menteng in Central Kalimantan

 to the RHOI Kehje Sewen Forest in East Kalimantan

As a part of the 7th orangutan reintroduction event from the Borneo Orangutan Survival (BOS) Foundation program in Nyaru Menteng, Central Kalimantan a mother-infant orangutan unit and one further individual are released in the BOS Foundation/ RHOI Kehje Sewen Forest, East Kalimantan. Along with this release event, five orangutans from the BOS Foundation orangutan program at Samboja Lestari in East Kalimantan are being translocated to Nyaru Menteng. These five orangutans who are of sub-species Pongo pygmaeus wurmbii will undertake the last stage of rehabilitation process on one the pre-release islands which are managed by the BOS Foundation in Nyaru Menteng before finally being released into their natural habitat in Central Kalimantan.

Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, 1 December 2013. A mother and her infant, and one other individual are released into the BOS Foundation / RHOI Ecosystem Restoration Concession, Kehje Sewen forest in Kutai Timur and Kutai Kartanegara Regencies, East Kalimantan. This orangutan reintroduction is an exceptional release event given it encompasses the first cross-province orangutan reintroductions from the BOS Foundation Central Kalimantan Orangutan Reintroduction Program at Nyaru Menteng to the BOSF / RHOI Ecosystem Restoration Concession, Kehje Sewen forest in Kutai Timur and Kutai Kertanegara Regency, East Kalimantan. Despite having been rehabilitated over many years at our Orangutan Rehabilitation Center, Nyaru Menteng in Central Kalimantan, Yayang and Sayang and Diah are released in East Kalimantan.

Mother-infant pair, Yayang and Sayang will be released in East Kalimantan following obligatory DNA testing procedures prior to any orangutan reintroduction. The test results revealed that Yayang belongs to the sub-species Pongo pygmaeus morio which naturally inhabits the eastern part of Kalimantan.  In compliance with welfare practices, Yayang’s dependant infant, Sayang, will be released with her mother to ensure her welfare.

Diah, a 17 year old orangutan is released in East Kalimantan because her sub-species is also Pongo pygmaeus morio which naturally inhabits the eastern part of Kalimantan. Confiscated from Sebulu, East Kalimantan, Diah underwent the first part of her rehabilitation process in the BOS Foundation Reintroduction Centre, Samboja Lestari – East Kalimantan. However, Samboja Lestari experienced over capacity issues following a massive influx of rescued orangutans due to large deliberate forest fire set in 1998. Diah, who had only been in Samboja Lestari for one year had to be translocated to the newly established Nyaru Menteng in Central Kalimantan.

Thus following the standard national and international guidelines from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Yayang, Sayang, and Diah will be released into the Kehje Sewen Forest, East Kalimantan, instead of the Bukit Batikap Conservation Forest, Central Kalimantan like other rehabilitated orangutans from Nyaru Menteng. 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 was desperately needed to release rehabilitated orangutans from the BOS Foundation Orangutan Reintroduction Center at Samboja Lestari.

This release event involves the collaboration of all the stakeholders, including the Central and East Kalimantan Provincial Governments, Kutai Timur and Kutai Kartanegara Regencies Government, Central and East Kalimantan Conservation and Natural Resources Authority, and the whole community of Kutai Timur and Kutai Kartanegara.

The BOS Foundation strives to meet the targets of the Indonesian Orangutan Action Plan and Conservation Strategy 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 currently in rehabilitation centers should be released by 2015, and it has been endorsed by all levels of government, including the provincial and regency levels.

“The reason why Yayang, Sayang, and Diah have to be released in another province is because as orangutans originally from east of Kalimantan, they have different genetic traits compared to those from other parts of Kalimantan. We are committed to preserving the genetic purity of each released orangutan as this is very important. And with the many orangutans waiting to be released we have currently under our care and rehabilitation, there is a probability that we will have to do more cross-province releases in the future.” Dr. Jamartin Sihite, the CEO of the BOS Foundation said in his statement.

Director of Biodiversity Conservation, Ministry of Forestry, Dr. Ir. Novianto Bambang W., MSi states, “Orangutans are protected by the government and their status is Endangered. Based on this and Yayang-Sayang’s case, the government will commence orangutan population monitoring, which includes orangutan sub-species identification by DNA test. Hence the orangutans living beyond their natural habitat, especially those who have been kept by humans and were sent to rehabilitation centers, will be able to be released back into their natural habitat according to their sub-species.”

Anton Nurcahyo, Program Manager of the BOS Foundation Reintroduction Centre at Nyaru Menteng says, “At the moment in Nyaru Menteng there are more than 500 orangutans eligible to be released. Most of them still need to undergo DNA testing to determine their sub-species origin, which will ultimately determine where they will be released. Unfortunately, DNA testing is expensive. By conducting the test prior the orangutan’s admission to a rehabilititation center, the government will help lessen the costs borne by orangutan rehabilitation centers and enable orangutans to complete the rehabilitation process within the appropriate locality.”

The BOS Foundation also conveys its gratitude for all the supporting parties, donors, and sister organisations, such as BOS Australia.

Contact:

Paulina L. Ela

Communications Specialist

Yayasan Penyelamatan Orangutan Borneo

Email: pauline@orangutan.or.id

Mobile: 081347337003

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Editor’s Note:

ABOUT BOS FOUNDATION

Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF) is an Indonesian non-profit organization based in Bogor, West Java, Indonesia, which is committed to rescue, rehabilitate, and reintroduce Borneo orangutans to their natural habitat, as well as educating local communities and increasing public awareness about the conservation of orangutans.

Established since 1991, BOSF has partnered closely with the Ministry of Forestry of the Republic of Indonesia and are supported by international donors, as well as other organizations. BOSF is currently headed by Prof. Dr. Bungaran Saragih as Chairman of the Board of Trustees. For more information, visit www.orangutan.or.id.

ABOUT RHOI

PT Restorasi Habitat Orangutan Indonesia (RHOI) is a company founded by the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF) on April 21, 2009, for a specific purpose, namely to get the forest concession for Ecosystem Restoration (HPH-RE) to release the orangutans.

As an NGO, BOSF could not legally obtain an HPH-RE permit. That’s why BOSF built a private company, namely RHOI, as a vehicle to get it. HPH-RE provides RHOI with the authority to use and manage a concession area – in this case, a forest – which is required to release rehabilitated orangutans from the two rehabilitation centers owned by BOSF, located in East Kalimantan (Samboja Lestari) and in Central Kalimantan (Nyaru Menteng).

On August 18, 2010, RHOI was granted the HPH-RE from the Ministry of Forestry of the Republic of Indonesia, for a forest area of 86,450 hectares in the Regencies of Kutai Kartanegara and East Kutai, East Kalimantan Province. This concession provides a viable, protected and sustainable habitat for orangutans, for 60 years, with renewal option for 35 more years. Funds to pay for the license, amounting to around 1.4 million U.S. dollars, were obtained from BOSF donors in Europe and Australia.

RHOI calls this concession “Kehje Sewen Forest”, adopting a local Dayak Wehea language in which ‘kehje sewen‘ means orangutan. So Kehje Sewen is a forest for the orangutans. For more information, visit www.theforestforever.com.

Yayang-Sayang-Diah: Cross-Province Orangutan Release Candidate

Yayang and Sayang

Yayang

Yayang

Yayang's daughter, Sayang.

Yayang’s daughter, Sayang.

Yayang arrived at Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Rehabilitation Center on January 3, 2004 after being confiscated by the South Kalimantan Conservation and Natural Resources Authority (BKSDA) from a resident of Banjar Baru. At that time, she was estimated to be 6.5-7 years of age.

When she arrived at the rehabilitation center, it was clearly visible that she had been tied around her neck with a rope. Yayang immediately received intensive care at Nyaru Menteng Clinic and soon joined Forest School.

Today, the female orangutan with slightly slanted eyes and dark brown hair is one of the inhabitants of Kaja Island, a BOS Foundation orangutan pre-release island. Yayang is now 15 years old and weighs 36.8 kg. She is very active, loves to explore and does not like to be approached by humans.

In April 2009, Yayang gave birth to her first child, Sayang, on Kaja Island. Sayang is now 3 years old and weighs a healthy 9.3 kg.  Sayang has already started to learn to look for her own food and is no longer constantly in her mother’s arms.

Now that Yayang and Sayang are ready for release, they recently underwent a DNA testing to confirm their sub-species status; a process that all release candidates must go through. However, unlike other orangutans in Nyaru Menteng, the results showed that Yayang and Sayang are Pongo pygmaeus morio, a sub-species  inhabiting the eastern part of Kalimantan, instead of Pongo pygmaeus wurmbii which inhabits Central Kalimantan.

Thus following the standard national and international regulations from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Yayang and Sayang will be released in Kehje Sewen, East Kalimantan, instead of in Bukit Batikap like the other rehabilitated orangutans from Nyaru Menteng.

For Yayang, 8 years living and learning at the rehabilitation center and pre-release islands at Nyaru Menteng, Central Kalimantan has provided her with sufficient knowledge on how to survive in the forest together with her daughter Sayang.

The story of Yayang and Sayang also shows how important it is for authorized government officials to arrange for DNA testing before allocating a rescued orangutan to a specific rehabilitation center, thus ensuring that the orangutan will be rehabilitated and reintroduced in its natural environment according to its sub-species. Furthermore, placement of an orangutan in accordance of its sub-species will save on future release costs because the orangutan will not have to be moved and transported cross-provinces like Yayang and Sayang.

Diah

Diah

Diah

Confiscated from Sebulu, East Kalimantan, Diah underwent the rehabilitation process in Samboja Lestari, East Kalimantan. In 1999, Samboja Lestari experienced over capacity problems following a massive influx of rescued orangutans due to large forest fire. Diah, who had only been in Samboja Lestari for one year had to be translocated to the newly established Nyaru Menteng in Central Kalimantan.

When Diah arrived at Nyaru Menteng on November 20, 2000, this female orangutan was only four years old and weighed 15.5 kg. She joined the Forest School to regain her natural abilities. Diah is friendly towards other orangutans in Nyaru Menteng, she has made friends with some other females. After the Forest School, Diah continued to join the pre-release stage on Palas Island. The loner Diah is really fond of exploring the island and highly skilled in choosing her natural foods.

Diah is now 17 years old and weighs 43 kg. A beautiful female orangutan, she has long dark brown hair. Soon Diah will be in her true home in East Kalimantan and enjoy the freedom of the Kehje Sewen Forest.

Along with this release event, five orangutans from the BOS Foundation in Samboja Lestari in East Kalimantan will be translocated to Nyaru Menteng. They are four female orangutans: Cici, Karen, Roma and Donna, and one male Marwoto. These five orangutans are of sub-species Pongo pygmaeus wurmbii which naturally inhabits the central part of Kalimantan, hence in the future they will have to be released in Central Kalimantan. The orangutans who have been living for quite a long time in East Kalimantan will undertake the last stage of rehabilitation process on one of pre-release islands managed by the BOS Foundation in Nyaru Menteng, before finally being released back into their natural habitat in Central Kalimantan.

A Goodnight Lullaby

One of the survival skills that must be possessed by the orangutans is the ability to make nest. Usually, when evening arrives, they begin to prepare their nest for the night. Orangutans are among the most intelligent primates. They use a variety of sophisticated tools to construct the nest from branches and foliage. Orangutan babies learn to build nest by observing their mother building one. Unfortunately, Sarmi and Mona could not have this learning experience. They have lost their mother since the very young age. Sarmi and Mona were rescued by the BOS Foundation and brought to Samboja Lestari when they were around 4 or 5 years old. In Samboja Lestari, they learned the needed skills to survive in the wild, including the ability to make a nest.

Emerson had a different story in the past. The BOS Foundation rescued him when he was 15 years old. At that time, he had already had the basic survival skills. His abilities have been increasing since he lived in the Pre-release Island.

The Post-Release Monitoring team observed that Emerson has used several trees like Aglaia sp., Litsea sp., and Ficus sp. to build his nest. Emerson’s nest is always big and built sturdily which really fits his big body.

Emerson's big and sturdy nest.

Emerson’s big and sturdy nest.

Sarmi, an agile orangutan, likes to build her nest using Aglaia sp., Litsea sp., Koordersiodendron pinnatum. (kedondong), Duabanga moluccana (kalanggo) and also Ficus sp.. Her nest usually looks very nice and also sturdy.

While Mona, still adapting to her new environment, is still getting used to building her nest in the wild forest. On the first day in Kehje Sewen Forest, Mona slept on a top of a tree trunk. The PRM team recorded that during the first week, Mona made new nest twice. Mostly, she only added some branches and foliage to her old nest. She was also seen using Emerson’s old nest that week. This matter has become a main concern to the team in the field. Mona is being closely observed by the PRM team. Hopefully, when she gets more familiar with her new home, she will show us her great ability to build nests.

Enjoy your good night sleep, Emerson, Mona and Sarmi! Let the forest sing you a lullaby.

So, how are the other orangutans doing? Of course they are still under the PRM team’s radar. They are adjusting, looking happy living freely in the forest. Watch this space as more fun stories on our released orangutan from Kehje Sewen will be updated here!

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Text and photos by: Putri Wulansari, PRM Team Coordinator