10 Orangutans from Samboja Lestari are Going Home! (Part 3)

March 22, 2014 | Orangutan Release Day 3

The first eight orangutans were returned to their true home in the Kehje Sewen Forest on March 20, 2014. But due to bad weather conditions, Kent and Wani had to stay overnight in Muara Wahau. Today, after a full assessment, the weather was deemed safe for the B3 helicopter to finally fly the two orangutans back to their true home.

The Final Two Return Home!

Leaving for the airport at 6.30 am this morning, the Orangutan Release Team in Muara Wahau was in high spirits. The town was still covered in a thick morning fog, but unlike the previous morning, the birds were singing songs of hope. We were going to send Kent and Wani home to the Kehje Sewen Forest, after the unfortunate delay yesterday due to bad weather.

Foggy Morning

The team arrived at PT. Swakarsa Sinar Sentosa’s airport at 7 am. Vet Agnes and the five technicians who had stayed with the orangutans last night, were already busy checking and feeding Kent and Wani. Wani was getting a bit impatient and who could blame her!  She banged her travel cage and shook it from side to side, but stopped as soon as vet Agnes brought her some milk. Kent and Wani were both in good health. Vet Agnes said that they were mostly calm and slept soundly all through the night.

Vet Agnes checking orangutans’ condition.

Reports and photos from Kehje Sewen indicated that the forest too, was still foggy. But it didn’t rain this morning, so we hoped that was a good sign. We took our time, had breakfast and cheered up each other up by telling jokes. We had all day. As soon as the fog cleared up, we would send these two orangutans back to where they belong – the forest.

Have a Safe Trip, Kent & Wani!

Warm rays of the sun finally pierced through the fog at 11 am, chasing it away. At Camp 103 in Kehje Sewen, the sky had reportedly cleared also. We immediately got ready. After final checks on the orangutans by vet Agnes, the technicians took the travel cages and loaded them into the sling load net. Then the Helicopter Landing Officer (HLO) secured and checked the sling load thoroughly and soon after the pilot started the helicopter’s engines.

Securing the sling load.

At 11.11 am, Kent and Wani were finally lifted up into the sky once again, heading to their new home in the Kehje Sewen Forest. We waved goodbye and prayed for their safe journey home. Then we returned to the small hut (waiting area at the airport) and waited for good news from our team in the forest.

Kent and Wani finally on their way home.

The helicopter returned safely to Muara Wahau at 12.48 pm, bringing empty travel cages from the previous release trip two days ago. Shortly after, the helicopter flew back to Balikpapan with four of our team members on board. The rest of the team happily drove back to town to have a good rest while waiting for exciting release stories of Kent and Wani from our team in Kehje Sewen Forest.

Orangutan Release Team in Muara Wahau thanks all of you for your support!

They Who Finally Returned Home

At 10:55 precisely, the B3 helicopter carrying Kent and Wani in their travel cages landed safely on the helipad in Camp 103, guided by Masino, our HLO from Samboja Lestari.

Helicopter that brings Kent and Wani landed in Kehje Sewen.

Their arrival was greeted by rain in Kehje Sewen. Immediately, they were taken to their release points, 1.8 km from Camp 103 towards the Lembu River. The release points were specially designated by Dr. Sri Suci Utami Atmoko, orangutan expert who is also a supporting expert consultant for the BOS Foundation and who was attending the release event in Kehje Sewen.

Kent and Wani were brought to the release point.

Wani’s travel cage was opened first at 12.30. Released by Sam Edri, Samboja Lestari’s technician, the female orangutan dashed out of the cage and climbed a tree. Wani who had been impatient and kept banging on her travel cage door, kept climbing and climbing while observing her surroundings from the tree.

Wani.

Fifteen minutes later, it was Kent’s turn for freedom. He was released 200 meters away from Wani by Wondo, a driver from Pelangsiran (a small transit community of agarwood and bird’s nest collectors located on the border of Kehje Sewen) who had driven the orangutans to their release points. Kent climbed a tree almost immediately after the door was opened, and just like Wani, took the chance to observe his new surroundings from the tree.

Kent’s cage was opened by Wondo.

Kent.

Kent and Wani were very lucky to have been included within this release event. DNA tests are costly and take time. The BOS Foundation received their DNA test results at the very last minute, during the transport of the first eight orangutans on March 20. Once we found out the results did indeed confirm that Kent and Wani are East Kalimantan orangutans, it was decided that they retained their candidacy and would go home following the first eight. Adding to the gut wrenching drama was the delay of their release yesterday, due to the weather conditions. But now, they’re safe. Wani and Kent have finally been returned to the forest. Welcome to Kehje Sewen and we’ll be watching over you!

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Your Immediate Support is Needed

While the unforeseen delay is beyond our control, it has hampered us with additional costs, including the cost of helicopter rental. We desperately need your immediate support. Click http://donation.orangutan.or.id and donate to give your support for our successful reintroduction event from Samboja Lestari.

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Text by: Rini Sucahyo and Monica Devi Krisnasari.

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10 Orangutans from Samboja Lestari are Going Home! (Part 2)

Following the successful release of eight orangutans yesterday, today the BOS Foundation in Samboja Lestari continued the event by sending two more orangutans to the Kehje Sewen Forest.

DNA Test : Important!

Today we were going to release two orangutans, Kent and Wani, into the Kehje Sewen Forest, after they were almost removed as release candidates due to  the necessity to re-run DNA tests.

Reintroducing orangutans is not as simple as many people may imagine. It is not only about taking the orangutans to the forest and opening their cages. Many strict criteria need to be met, both national and international and these are set by IUCN and the Indonesian authorities. One of those is to ensure the release area corresponds with the orangutans’ sub-species and origin. Hence the importance of DNA tests.

DNA tests play a significant role in deciding the location for rehabilitation and reintroduction. The placement of an individual orangutan according to their sub-species will save costs of reintroduction in the future. Following inconclusive test results, the BOS Foundation had to await more detailed analysis for Wani and Kent, who were originally candidates for this current release, along with the eight orangutans released earlier yesterday. This resulted in a delay in confirming their candidacy until after the results were out. The case of Kent and Wani shows how important DNA tests are for the government before they appoint the rehabilitation centers to care of the orangutans.

Heavy Rain in Samboja Lestari

A huge downpour had fallen over Samboja Lestari since last night until this morning. Release Teams in Samboja Lestari, Muara Wahau, and Kehje Sewen Forest coordinated nonstop to update each other with weather reports in each area. As the time passed, the weather cleared and brought hope that today’s event would go smoothly.

Just like yesterday, Medics and Technicians were ready from 5 in the morning at the Quarantine Complex. Vet Agus Irwanto as the coordinator of Release Team in Samboja Lestari, along with vet Agnes Pratamiutami were ready with the necessary sedation equipment. However, due to the rain, they had to delay the process until 09.15, still under the non-stop drizzle. Nothing could drain our spirits, though.

Kent, the independent and skilled male orangutan candidate who also dislikes human presence, was the first to be sedated.

Technician Rupiadi sedating Kent.

In his enclosure, Kent seemed to start feeling the effects of the sedation. Slowly, he leaned on one of the corners, the drowsiness creeping in.

Kent started to fall asleep.

He was finally asleep and Technicians brought him out of the enclosure. Before putting him into his travel cage, vet Agus took a blood sample for the serum bank.

Taking Kent’s blood sample.

Kent was carried on a stretcher towards the travel cage. As always, he received a reversal shot before the door was secured.

Kent was moved into his travel cage.

Next was Wani’s turn to be sedated by vet Agus.

Preparing sedation doses for Wani.

Without any delay, considering the day was getting late, Technician Firman sedated Wani. Firman is one of our senior technicians at Samboja Lestari. After looking for the right position to blow the dart, he managed to sedate Wani at 09.52.

Technician Firman sedating Wani.

But Wani still looked fresh in her enclosure and there was no sign of being sleepy whatsoever. After waiting for more than seven minutes, there was still no sign of drowsiness in the beautiful orangutan, the Medical Team decided to give her an extra dose. After 12 minutes, the strong female was still awake so an additional top up dose had to be administered.

Wani started to fall asleep.

Four minutes later, she finally fell asleep. Technicians brought her out of her enclosure and carried her to her travel cage.

Wani was moved into her travel cage.

Again a blood sample was taken and a reversal was given inside the transport cage. The Team tried to finish the process and leave Samboja Lestari before the weather worsened.

Taking Wani’s blood sample.

Constantly communicating with the Muara Wahau Team, at 10.15 the truck which carried Kent and Wani left for Sepinggan Airport in Balikpapan. After a 1.5 hour journey, they arrived at the airport where the airplane which would carry the orangutans to Muara Wahau was on stand-by.

The loading process started with moving Wani onto the plane, followed by Kent.

Unloading/loading travel cages into the plane.

With loading completed, the plane was ready to fly to the ariport belonging to PT. Swakarsa Sinar Sentosa in Muara Wahau. Kent and Wani were accompanied by vet Agnes and technician Norman.

Cloudy Day in Muara Wahau

A thunderous storm poured down on the small sub-regional town of Muara Wahau which had started the night before. By 8 am this morning, it had calmed and turned into a light drizzle. The rain finally stopped at around 9 am and the sun started to shine again. But there were still many dark clouds, hanging low, promising more rain. Learning that the loading and transport process was also delayed at Samboja Lestari due to bad weather, we decided to lighten our mood by having breakfast together.  We didn’t head to PT. Swakarsa Sinar Sentosa’s airport until the team from Samboja Lestari reported that they had arrived at Sepinggan Airport in Balikpapan. It was already 11.35 am.

Weather reports from Camp 103 in Kehje Sewen Forest weren’t optimum either. It was raining as well over there. Although the sky had reportedly cleared a bit by late morning, grey clouds, thick fog and heavy rain had returned by the time the Twin Otter airplane bringing our final two orangutans – Kent and Wani – landed at the airport in Muara Wahau at 1.07 pm.

Twin Otter airplane bringing Kent and Wani landed in Muara Wahau.

We kept our spirits high and started unloading Kent and Wani’s travel cages from the airplane and loaded them into the helicopter sling load. Weather reports from the Kehje Sewen Forest did not improve. But the B3 helicopter pilot from Hevilift, Darren Stockton, said that he was prepared to fly and see if things might look different from above. He assured us that he would try his best to find his way into the forest and take our orangutans home. However, he also earnestly told us to prepare for disappointment if he decided to turn around and return to Muara Wahau due to worsening weather conditions. Safety for people and orangutans comes above all else and whatever the pilot’s final decision would be, we would wholeheartedly respect that.

Loading travel cages onto the sling load.

Hoping for a Better Tomorrow

Around 20 minutes later, the B3 helicopter started its engines and prepared to fly. It took off at 1.28 pm, disappearing into low-hanging dark clouds, carrying Kent and Wani to the forest. We crossed our fingers and hoped for the best.

Helicopter taking off, bringing Kent and Wani to Kehje Sewen Forest.

However, after around 45 minutes, we still hadn’t received any news from our team at Camp 103. When we contacted them, they told us that the helicopter had not been sighted or heard.  They tried to radio the helicopter pilot but did not get any answer. They also informed us that the weather in forest had worsened considerably. Our hearts sank and sure enough, we heard the unmistakable sound of the helicopter coming back towards Muara Wahau.

At around 2.25 pm, the helicopter hovered above the airstrip of PT. Swakarsa Sinar Sentosa’s airport and gently lowered the sling load containing the travel cages of Kent and Wani, and landed shortly after. The pilot said that he had tried two different ways to get there. But thick dark clouds were everywhere affecting visibility. He finally decided it was not safe to keep flying and returned to Muara Wahau. Naturally, we were disappointed, but we realized it was for the best. There was no point trying to fight Mother Nature and certainly not to the detriment of safety standards.

Helicopter lowering the sling load containing travel cages of Kent and Wani.

So we unloaded the travel cages again and took them to a small forested area that borders the airport. After coordinating with all teams at the Headquarters, Samboja Lestari and Camp 103 in Kehje Sewen Forest, as well as with the teams from Airfast, Hevilift and PT. Swakarsa Sinar Sentosa, we decided that Kent and Wani will stay overnight in Muara Wahau under the careful watch of our team there and we will try to send them to their new forest home tomorrow morning.

Kent and Wani taken to a small forested area that borders the airport.

At 4 pm, we moved the travel cages to a small but comfortable hut that usually functions as the airport’s waiting area. Vet Agnes and five technicians from Samboja Lestari are staying with our two orangutans, keeping them safe around the clock, well fed and well taken of. The helicopter also stays overnight in Muara Wahau and, weather permitting, is ready to fly as early as possible tomorrow. It was a tough day, but we are hopeful that tomorrow is a much better day.

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Your Immediate Support is Needed

While the unforeseen delay is beyond our control, it has hampered us with additional costs, including the cost of helicopter rental. We desperately need your immediate support. Click http://donation.orangutan.or.id and donate to give your support for the successful release of these two Samboja Lestari orangutans during this 5th Orangutan Release activity.

Text by: Rini Sucahyo and Paulina L. Ela

10 Orangutans from Samboja Lestari are Going Back Home!

March 20, 2014| Orangutan Release Day 1

Today, March 20 2014, eight orangutans finally departed from Samboja Lestari towards predesignated release points in the Kehje Sewen Forest. They were divided into two groups; the first group consisted of Acul, Nila, Oneng, and Upi, and the second group consisted of Indo, Maduri, Leke and Bajuri.

This is the first of a series of planned release events from Samboja Lestari during 2014.

The Journey Began!

The first day started with the medical preparations.  At 4.30 in the morning, the Medical Team and Technicians were ready at Samboja Lestari Clinic and immediately departed for the Quarantine Complex.  The Medical Team was led by vet Agus Irwanto and they were all set to prepare the orangutans for their journey.  The day however, was still dark so vet Agus decided to wait for a while to avoid any unwanted mistakes during the sedation process.

drh. Agus preparing sedation doses.

drh. Agus preparing sedation doses.

The Samboja Lestari Medical Team started the sedation process at 06.06. Upi, a female orangutan who is known for her habit of making chirping vocalisations towards her least favourite babysitters was lucky number one.  The sedation dose didn’t have the desired affect so the vet decided to add to her dose.  After quite a long time, she finally fell asleep and could be moved to her transport cage.

Sedating Upi and taking her into her travel cage.

Sedating Upi and taking her into her travel cage.

Acul, a dominant male orangutan with growing cheekpads was the second to be sedated. Just like Upi, Acul also needed an extra dose before he finally fell asleep and could be moved to his transport cage.

Sedating Acul and taking him into his travel cage.

Sedating Acul and taking him into his travel cage.

The next was Nila, a quiet orangutan known as a loner who is not very fond of other female orangutans. She, too, needed an extra sedation dose.

Sedating NIla and taking her into her travel cage.

Sedating NIla and taking her into her travel cage.

Oneng, however, felt the sedation effects kick in right away. Without any trouble, the Team moved the female safely into her travel cage.

Sedating Oneng and taking her into her travel cage.

Sedating Oneng and taking her into her travel cage.

Before being placed into their respective travel cages, the vet took a blood sample from each candidate to be added to the serum bank.

Taking blood samples.

Taking blood samples.

Soon after all of the transport cages were loaded onto the truck, the team departed for Sepinggan International Airport in Balikpapan, where the candidates were to be flown onwards to an airport belonging to PT. Swakarsa Sinar Sentosa in Muara Wahau.

They were loaded onto the truck.

They were loaded onto the truck.

The airplane which would carry the orangutans was ready and waiting for them at Sepinggan. The release truck arrived at the airport at 08.19 and soon enough, we received the signal to start loading the orangutans onto the plane, which took us only ten minutes.

Loading/unloading process.

Loading/unloading process.

Acul, Nila, Oneng, and Upi were then ready to go!

Leaving the Humans’ World

The Orangutan Release Team in Muara Wahau was also up and about very early this morning. By 7 am, they were already on standby at the small airport belonging to PT. Swakarsa Sinar Sentosa.  Airport staff and the security team from PT. Swakarsa Sinar Sentosa were also ready on site.  The B3 helicopter from Hevilift arrived at the airport at around 8.30 am.  After discussing drop points with our team, the helicopter pilot decided to do a flyover of Kehje Sewen Forest to find the drop points.  He arrived back in Muara Wahau about an hour later and immediately started to refuel.  The weather was beautiful this morning, lifting the teams spirits.  We were excited to be sending our orangutans on their final journey home!

B3 helicopter arrived in Muara Wahau.

B3 helicopter arrived in Muara Wahau.

The Twin Otter airplane was sighted in the sky over Muara Wahau at 10.20 am and landed safely.  We began unloading the first four travel cages straight away and loading them into the slingload net, while the Twin Otter took off again to return to Balikpapan.  Acul, Nila, Oneng and Upi all seemed to be calm while we were loading them onto the slingload.  Vet Agnes sprinkled the travel cages with water to keep them cool and the Samboja Lestari technicians gave them their last snacks of fresh fruit.  At 10.54 am, our first four orangutans – Acul, Nila, Oneng and Upi – took to the sky, leaving the world of humans for good and finally returning to their rightful home.

Acul, Nila, Oneng and Upi were off to their forest home!

Acul, Nila, Oneng and Upi were off to their forest home!

Hallo Kehje Sewen!

At 10:40 the B3 helicopter approched Drop Point 1 located on 103 Hill carrying four orangutan travel cages in the slingload net. Guided by Masino, the HLO from Samboja Lestari, the four orangutans landed safely at Drop Point 1.  Soon, Masino released the net from the sling load and gave the signal to the pilot that it was safe to fly away.

Masino as HLO.

Masino as HLO.

With amazing effeciency, the RHOI Team supported by Samboja Lestari technicians opened the net in order to remove the cages. Acul, Nila, Upi and Oneng were then immediately brought to a pre-designated release point on Hill 103, which is situated along the border of the Protected Forest – Gunung Batu Mesangat.

Their release points were located one kilometer away from Camp 103 and 500 meters away from the helicopter drop point.  Once her travel cage was lifted out of the safety net, Nila seemed unhappy with the Team’s presence; she slammed her cage several times while watching the Team intently.

Three Brave Females

The first travel cage to be opened was Oneng’s.  Opened by Nur, Deputy Manager of Camp 103, Oneng ran straight to a tree and climbed up.  She climbed higher and higher and did not hesitate to move from one tree to another.  Being the smallest in her group doesn’t mean she is not a confident orangutan.  She was soon exploring the area surrounding her release point until the Release Team left her to enjoy her first moments of her new life.

Oneng was the

Oneng was the first to be released.

Masino, a technician from Samboja Lestari, who also trained as a HLO opened the second cage, Upi’s cage.  The release point was about 100 meters away from that of Oneng’s.  Once the door was opened Upi climbed a tree after stopping for a few seconds to stare at Masino and the Team.  In Samboja Lestari, Upi was known as a curious and active orangutan.  Masino who is very familiar with the female orangutan whilst in the Forest School claimed that he was so proud to see her independence.  Soon after climbing a tree, Upi disappeared in the lush forest canopy.

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Upi enjoying new home!

The third cage was Nila’s which was opened 200 meters away from Upi’s point, by vet Putra from Samboja Lestari.  Nila who was impatient stormed out of her cage.  She quickly climbed a tree and explored the area around her release point with the PRM Team following to observe her.

drh. Putra opened Nila's cage.

drh. Putra opened Nila’s cage.

Acul was Looking for Nila?

Acul was in the fourth travel cage and his release point was towards the Protected Forest of Gunung Batu Mesangat, 100 meters away from Nila’s.  Musa Ba Helaq, the Acting Chief of Diaq Lay Village opened his cage, representing the people of Dayak Wehea.  Once the door was opened, the male with cheekpads stepped out, but took his time before climbing a tree.

Musa opened Acul's cage.

Musa opened Acul’s cage.

He seemed to be still under the remaining influence of sedation.  He walked slowly towards Nila’s release point and walked around a tree where Nila had earlier climbed, and sniffed Nila’s empty travel cage.  Acul looked up, but hesitation was clear in his body language.  He then decided to follow the technicians who moved Nila’s cage as if following Nila’s odour.  After about 50 meters, he sat down eating manggo leaves before finally climbing a tree.

Acul, the first moments of freedom.

Acul, the first moments of freedom.

Samboja Lestari: Second Group Preparation

Meanwhile at the Quarantine Complex in Samboja Lestari, the sedation preparation for the second group of orangutans started at 09.18. By 09.22, the sedation process commenced with Bajuri being the first.  After almost six minutes the sedation seemed to take no effect on Bajuri, hence Vet Agus decided to add the dose.  Bajuri was finally asleep and moved to his travel cage.

Sedating Leke and taking her into her travel cage.

Sedating Bajuri and taking him into his travel cage.

The beautiful Maduri with her fair skinned face was the next to be sedated.  Maduri seemed nervous upon seeing a technician approaching her with the sedation equipment.  She started making screeching vocalisations as if telling the technician to stay away from her. But when she saw Bajuri being moved to the transport cage, Maduri started to calm down and the technician was able to sedate her.  It took quite a while for the sedation to take effect on Maduri, but the team decided not to give her extra dose.  She was then moved to her transport cage.

Sedating Bajuri.

Sedating Maduri and taking her into her travel cage.

After Maduri, Indo, the male orangutan who was the best graduate of Forest School was the next to be sedated.  It also took him some time to fall asleep, but just like Maduri he didn’t receive any additional medication and could finally be moved into his transport cage.

Sedating Indo and taking him to his travel cage.

Leke, the stout dominant female orangutan was the last to be sedated.  Since it took her a very long time to fall asleep, vet Agus decided to top up her  dose.  She finally fell asleep and was moved into the transport cage which would carry her to her true home in Kehje Sewen.

Sedating Indo and taking him to his travel cage.

Sedating Leke and taking her into her travel cage.

By 10.21, the whole sedation and moving process for Group 2 was completed.  But before travel commenced, the Team needed to make sure that the orangutans were all awake.  It is important for their safety, to avoid serious injury which can occur if they travel while asleep; for example if the neck was badly positioned, the orangutans would be unable to breathe properly.  The journey might also cause motion sickness and regurgitation. Therefore, reversing the anesthetic is of extreme importance.

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Loading the cages onto the truck.

The truck arrived at Sepinggan at 11.30.  We still had to wait for around half an hour for the return of the airplane which had taken Group 1 to Muara Wahau. Upon arrival, the loading process was immediately undertaken and soon all of the orangutans were safely secured on the airplane.

The cages were loaded into the plane.

The cages were loaded into the plane.

The plane was ready to fly.

The plane was ready to fly.

Bittersweet Moment

The B3 helicopter returned to PT. Swakarsa Sinar Sentosa’s airport at 12.20 pm and refueled again, while waiting for the second group of orangutans to arrive.  This next and final group – consisting of Indo, Maduri, Leke and Bajuri – arrived on the Twin Otter at 1.41 pm. The process of unloading and loading travel cages recommenced.  Just like the first group, these four release candidates didn’t give us any trouble at all.  They quietly sat in their travel cages. Leke, especially, enjoyed being sprinkled with water by vet Agnes.

Loading Indo, Maduri, Leke and Bajuri on the sling load.

Loading Indo, Maduri, Leke and Bajuri on the sling load.

Finally at 2.00 pm, the team in Muara Wahau concluded the day by sending Indo, Maduri, Leke and Bajuri to their final destination, the Kehje Sewen Forest in the B3 helicopter slingload.  The Twin Otter also took off shortly after the helicopter took off and flew back to Balikpapan.  Tears of joy were unavoidable no matter how many times we have seen this process in the past two years.  Sending orangutans home is always such a magical moment for all of us.

The second group of the day was finally returning home.

The second group of the day was finally returning home.

Orangutan Release in Lembu Hill

The helicopter arrived at Drop Point 2 at 14:00 carrying Indo, Maduri, Leke, and Bajuri in their travel cages.  Guided by HLO Arief, the two males and two females landed safely.

The first cage to be opened from the second group was Bajuri’s.  Opened by Fajar a technician from Camp 103, Bajuri walked around for a while before finally climbing a Koordersiodendron pinatum tree where he started consuming young leaves.

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Bowo, a technician from Camp 103 opened the second cage, which was Leke’s.  Her release point was 200 meters away from Bajuri’s.  Unlike Bajuri who took his time walking around on the ground, Leke dashed towards a tree and climbed up immediately.

Leke's cage was opened by Handoko.

Leke’s cage was opened by Bowo.

The third cage was Maduri’s. Opened 100 meters away from Leke’s by Budi Kuswara, a long term and fully dedicated driver of the BOS Foundation who has been with us for nine years.  Maduri seemed very enthusiastic to step out of her cage and quickly moved towards the trees and climbed up.

Maduri's first moments of freedom.

Maduri’s first moments of freedom.

Indo was in the fourth travel cage and his release point was 200 meters away from Maduri’s. Once the door was opened by Bambang and Arief, Indo stepped out and watched the Team closely before climbing a tree in front of him.

Finally eight orangutans from Samboja Lestari were released into the Kehje Sewen Forest. Acul and friends now enjoy the freedom in their natural habitat after undergoing a long process of rehabilitation in Samboja Lestari.  Seeing their confidence and ability in choosing natural foods, the Team hopes that the orangutans will enjoy living and exploring their new home.

At the end of the day, the Team watched with emotion filling their hearts as the B3 Helicopter flew away leaving Camp 103 and carrying empty travel cages, bringing joyful news for the whole BOS Foundation family.  Tomorrow, Kent and Wani will join their friends in their new home.

The helicopter arrived again at the airport at 4.28 pm, bringing empty travel cages from the first group.  Meanwhile, the rest of the team in Muara Wahau could finally have a much-deserved rest while waiting for good news from the forest.  A great first day in Muara Wahau and we are hoping for another great day tomorrow!

Text by: Meirini Sucahyo, Paulina L. Ela, Monica Devi Krisnasari.

[PRESS RELEASE] Reintroduction of 10 Orangutans From the BOS Foundation in Samboja Lestari

In the spirit of World Forestry Day on March 21, 2014, the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation releases 10 orangutans from the East Kalimantan Orangutan Reintroduction Center in Samboja Lestari back into their natural habitat.

  

Samboja Lestari, East Kalimantan, March 20, 2014. Following the successful reintroduction of 12 orangutans from the East Kalimantan Orangutan Reintroduction Center at Samboja Lestari together with 3 cross-province reintroductions in 2013, the BOS Foundation continues their reintroduction program in East Kalimantan in 2014 with the release of 10 rehabilitant orangutans from Samboja Lestari to the Kehje Sewen Forest, East Kalimantan.

Six female and four male orangutans depart from Samboja Lestari towards the release site in the Kehje Sewen Forest in East Kutai and Kutai Kartanegara regencies on March 20 -21, 2014.  Eight orangutans, divided into two flight groups, depart on March 20 from Sepinggan Airport, Balikpapan, East Kalimantan towards PT. Swakarsa Sinar Sentosa Airport in Muara Wahau Regency. Thereafter, they are flown by helicopter slingload to the Kehje Sewen Forest. Another two orangutans fly the next day on March 21 using the same route and transport system.

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 rights to use and manage a forest which is desperately needed to release rehabilitated orangutans from the BOS Foundation Orangutan Reintroduction Center at Samboja Lestari.

The orangutan release event involves the collaboration between the BOS Foundation and all stakeholders, including East Kalimantan Provincial Government, East Kutai and Kutai Kartanegara Regency Governments, East Kalimantan Conservation and Natural Resources Authority, and the people of East Kutai and Kutai Kartanegara. The BOS Foundation would also like to convey their gratitude for the moral, financial and logistical support from partner organizations such as BOS Switzerland and Orangutan Protection Foundation UK, private sectors such as First State Indoequity Peka Fund managed by First State Investment Indonesia and exclusively distributed by Citibank, Salim Ivomas, and BCA Bank, as well as individual donors and other conservation organizations across the globe who are concerned with orangutan conservation in Indonesia.

The Head of East Kalimantan Conservation and Natural Resources Authority, Ir. Y. Hendradi Kusdiharjo, M.M. said, “We are delighted to see the continuity of this orangutan release program. It is very important for us to ensure their survival in the place where they belong in natural forest. We also have to remember that a thriving forest can be indicated by the well-being of the animals in it, especially the orangutans.”

Successful orangutan reintroduction programs need to continue in order to return displaced orangutans back to natural habitat and achieve the target stated in the 2007-2017 Indonesian Orangutan Conservation Strategy and Action Plan. 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.

The CEO of the BOS Foundation, Dr. Ir. Jamartin Sihite stated, “We will continue our efforts to meet the target stated in the 2007-2017 Indonesian Orangutan Conservation Strategy and Action Plan. The cooperation between the Government, private sectors, and donors plays an important role in this event. I hope in the future more support can be given from all concerned parties. Let’s realise that this is the duty of us together.”

Drh. Agus Irwanto, Program Manager of Samboja Lestari also stated, “We start 2014 by releasing 10 orangutans. We are optimistic that we will release more orangutans into their natural habitat in the future. However, this has to be supported by the availability of suitable and safe forest. We sincerely hope the concerned parties continue their support, both in the execution of the reintroduction and the provision of suitable and safe forest in the future.”

Deforestation in Indonesia is moving rapidly. Without serious efforts to conserve the forest, orangutan conservation efforts will be futile.  In return, the target stated in the 2007-2017 Indonesian Orangutan Conservation Strategy and Action Plan cannot be achieved. In the spirit of World Forestry Day, the BOS Foundation would like to reach out to all the concerned parties to achieve this target, including to realise the conservation of forest and the animals within.

Contact:

Suwardy

Communications- Samboja Lestari

Email: ardyoloy@yahoo.com

Mobile: +62 857-5305-5763

Paulina L. Ela

Communications Specialist

Email: pauline@orangutan.or.id

Mobile: +62 813 4733 7003

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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 PT. RHOI

PT Restorasi Habitat Orangutan Indonesia (RHOI) is a company that was established by the BOS Foundation on April 21, 2009, solely to acquirethe Utilization of Forest Timber Products through Restoration of the Ecosystem (IUPHHK-RE), also known as an Ecosystem Restoration Concession (ERC). As a non-profit organization the BOS Foundation is not allowed to apply for this license due to government regulations. Hence, RHOI was established.

On August 18, 2010, RHOI was issued an ERC permit, giving them the authority to use and manage 86,450 hectares of rainforest and provide a sustainable and secure habitat for orangutans for at least 60 years, with the option of extending for another 35 years. Issued by the Ministry of Forestry, this ERC license cost around US$1.4 million, which was funded by generous donations from donors and the BOS Foundation’s partner organizations in Europe, Australia and the USA.

RHOI named this forest Kehje Sewen, which translates as ‘orangutan’ in the local Dayak Wehea dialect. By name and nature, the Kehje Sewen Forest became a forest for orangutans. For more information, visit http://www.theforestforever.com.

Samboja Lestari Release Candidate Profiles

In the near future, 10 more orangutans will be living in Kehje Sewen forest. They are from Orangutan Reintroduction Center at Samboja Lestari who will be reintroduced into the forest on March, 20 and 21 2014. Here are their profiles. 

GROUP 1

1. ACUL

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Acul arrived in Samboja Lestari from Bontang on June 25, 2001 when he was only four years old.

Due to his semi-wild nature, Acul’s skills grew rapidly in Forest School. He is intelligent in choosing natural foods, building nests and spends most of his time in the trees. Acul is now a dominant male orangutans with growing cheekpads. Despite his dominance, Acul is never aggressive towards his friends.

Acul is now 17 years old and weighs 62 kg.  Soon the handsome Acul will enjoy true freedom in the Kehje Sewen Forest.

2. NILA

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Nila arrived in Samboja Lestari from Bontang on April 22, 1998 when she was still four years old and weighed only 4 kg. This female was cared for in our socialization enclosure together with Titin, Juminten, and Sarmi who were released in Kehje Sewen last year.

Nila was moved to Island 6 and improved her natural skills to survive in the wild whilst on the island. One of her friends on the island is Oneng, who is also a candidate for this release.

Nila prefers to spend her time alone and dislikes human presence. She is also skillful in choosing natural foods and she prefers to find her own food rather than eat the fruit provided daily by technicians. Her favourite food are leaves.

Nila is now 20 years old and weighs 68 kg. The adult female who is active in the trees soon will explore the lush forest of Kehje Sewen, her true home.

3. UPI

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Upi was handed over to Samboja Lestari on July 4, 2001 by a resident of Balikpapan who had been keeping her as a pet. She was five years old and weighed 16 kilograms.

Before being prepared as a release candidate, Upi learned in Forest School and then was promoted to Halfway House in 2004. She is skillful in recognising her natural foods. Her memorable habit as recalled by the babysitters is making a chirping sound towards the babysitters she disliked.

Upi is now 18 years old and weighs 44 kilograms. Soon the beautiful female orangutan will enjoy the beautiful free life in her new home in Kehje Sewen Forest.

4. ONENG

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Oneng who was only three years old arrived in Samboja Lestari on April 5, 2006 after being confiscated by the Conservation and Natural Resources Authority in Tenggarong from a resident of Muara Wahau who had been keeping her as a pet. Oneng was placed on Island 6 with other orangutans.

Oneng improved her survival skills on Island 6 with Nila, who will also be released with her, and Sarmi who has previously been released in Kehje Sewen in October 2013.

Oneng who is now 11 years old and weighs 41 kg is the youngest orangutan in this release group. Despite her young age, Oneng is famous for being smart and skillful in escaping from the island by paddling in the water. There is no doubt in her ability in recognising natural foods and building nests. The female orangutan of East Kalimantan will soon enjoy her true home in Kehje Sewen.

GROUP 2

1. INDO

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Indo was illegally kept as a pet by a resident of Samarinda before finally handed over to Samboja Lestari on April 10, 2001. The young male orangutan was only five years old and weighed 11.5 kg.

He was the best graduate from Forest School in his time and moved to Halfway House in 2004 to 2005 to improve his skills before being prepared as release candidate.

Indo who is skillful in recognising natural foods is a dominant but calm orangutan. Now 18 years old and weighing 60 kg, Indo is ready to put his skills into practice in his natural habitat.

2. MADURI

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Maduri arrived in Samboja Lestari on Desember 16, 1998 after being a pet of a resident in Muara Wahau, Kutai Timur Regency. She was two years old and weighed three kilograms.

Having graduated from the Forest School, she was moved to the Halfway House to undergo the last phase of her rehabilitation process between 2003 to 2007. Maduri who is skilled in recognising natural foods and spends most of her time in the trees was then prepared as a release candidate.

This beautiful orangutan with a fair face is now 18 years old and weighs 43 kg. Maduri has transformed into an adult female orangutan who is ready to go back to her true home in Kehje Sewen Forest.

3. LEKE

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Leke was illegally kept by a resident of Balikpapan before being handed over to Samboja Lestari on April 23, 2001. The female orangutan was only three years old and weighed 5.5 kg. She was suffering from dehydration, acute diarrhoea, and malnutrition, hence immediately placed her under intensive care with the Medical Team.

Leke learned in Forest School in 2001 until 2005 and earned the title of a smart student, who was eventually promoted to the Halfway House to be prepared as a release candidate in 2008.

The strong and large orangutan is a dominant female who doesn’t submit to her male counterparts in rivalry over food. Now 16 years old and weighing 51 kg, brave Leke is ready for her new life in the real forest.

4. BAJURI

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Bajuri was handed over to Samboja Lestari by Mulawarman University Botanical Garden in Samarinda on March 1, 2006. He was 6 years old.

In the Forest School, Bajuri was very active and independent. He was skilled in recognising natural foods and building nests. Because of his skills and ability, Bajuri was then prepared as one of our release candidates.

Despite being dominant, he is not aggressive towards his friends. Bajuri is now 14 years old and weighs 49 kg. Soon he will prove his independence and survival ability in the forest of Kehje Sewen.

GROUP 3

1. KENT

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Kent arrived from Sangkulirang in Samboja Lestari on March 25, 1999. He was just a baby, aged two months old weighing five kilograms, and was rescued from a local person’s farm. Apart from arriving without his mother, the baby was suffering from dehydration and acute diarrhoea due to a worm infection. Kent graduated from the Samboja Lestari Forest School in 2004 and was placed in Halfway House to be prepared as a release candidate.

The independent Kent is skilled in surviving in the wild and he also dislikes human presence around him. He is now 16 years old and weighs 45 kg. Soon he will live as a true wild orangutan in Kehje Sewen Forest.

2. WANI

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Wani arrived in Samboja Lestari on June 26, 2002 after being confiscated by the Conservation and Natural Resources Authority (BKSDA) in Tenggarong from a resident in Samarinda who was keeping her as a pet.  She was five years old and weighed 17 kg. Wani was separated from her mother and caught in Bengalon Village when she was only two months old.

The smart Wani graduated from the Forest School in 2004 and continued her learning process in Halfway House until 2007. She is very skillful in choosing natural foods and only willing to interact with her preferred babysitters.

Wani is now 17 years old and weighs 34 kilograms. The beautiful orangutan will soon go to her true home in Kehje Sewen Forest.

Stories from Mona, Agus and Casey

Mona Encounters a Snake

Text by: Agus, PRM Technician

The monitoring team left Camp 103 at 04.35 and thick fog still covered the Kehje Sewen forest.  At 05.20, we reached Mona’s night nest, but she was still fast asleep.  Waking up at 06.19, she sat up in her nest, yawned several times and rubbed her hands for a while.  Pretty much just like we humans do on a working day.  A minute later, Mona climbed out of her nest and sat on a fallen Macaranga pearsonii tree.  She sat there looking relaxed and gazing at the Telen River to the north.  After a while, she spotted the team and climbed down the tree making movements towards us.  Mona stopped after seeing us withdraw.

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Despite her great adaptation to her new environment, Mona’s curiousity still sometimes gets the better of her.  Therefore, we always make sure to keep our distance.

At 08.10, Mona started moving towards the foot of the nearby hills and eating Lhitocarpus gracilis (Fagaceae).  Seemingly having eaten her fill, she started jabbing a rock into a Shorea parvifolia root as if she was harvesting some sort of food item.  Seeing that she didn’t eat anything in the end, she was probably just curious.

IMG-20140218-WA0067 MONA -by Franky

2 IMG-20140218-WA0011 MONA -by Franky

Done with abusing the unfortunate rock and root, Mona approached us again.  But after only a few steps, she ran in the opposite direction and hastily climbed up a tree, hanging on and looking afraid.  Apparently she saw a snake near us and ran away to save herself.

IMG-20140218-WA0073 ULAR -by Franky

The snake that Mona saw.

Mona made a nest at 10.09 to rest for a bit, and all the while we were still observing from a safe distance.  It wasn’t long before she got up again and started foraging once more.  This time, she found she focused her feeding efforts on cambium.

At 16.00, the rain started to fall.  Mona who was now eating Macaranga pearsonii ran quickly to the nest she made earlier.  She made a few little adjusments to it and lay down.  Since the rain was getting harder we decided to go back to Camp 103, but not before we made sure there was no more movement from Mona’s nest.

Agus, We Meet Again!

Text by: Fajar, PRM Technician

We departed from Camp 103 for Gunung Belah, filled with confidence that we would immediately find the orangutans we were searching for.  We started to track orangutans using the radio receiver, however by 13.00, we still hadn’t located a single orangutan.   After a short break, we finally picked up Agus’s signal which we followed only to find him not very happy with our presence.  He kiss squeaked and threw branches down towards us.

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Agus_Agus

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After two hours of direct observations, Agus suddenly decided to quickly depart and he  moved down the hill rapidly.  The Team tried to follow him, but through the trees and thick rattan, it was impossible to keep sight of him.  We lost him at 15.47 and were unable to pick up his signal again.  All searches were in vain.  During previous monitoring observations, we have recorded that Agus has a wide and varied diet.  He has been recorded consuming fruit, tree bark, wood, leaves, ants etc.  He also does spends most of his time in tall trees most of the time.  Agus is one of the best orangutans under our observations and we are confident that we will observe him again soon.

Accidentally Met Casey

Text by: Arif, PRM Technician

Our plan for the day was to observe Siwi, but instead we met Casey at the “broken car” area.  Casey looked healthy and was going about her business as usual.  She spent time eating and traveling through the trees.  She also chased us away several times and in the end the Monitoring Team, consisting of Arif, Bowo, Holit, and Handoko ran for safety and observed her from a distance.

IMG-20140218-WA0042 CASEY -by Arif

IMG-20140218-WA0043 CASEY -by Arif