Day 4: Three Orangutans Return to East Kalimantan

Today was the last day of the 7th orangutan release event from the BOS Foundation Orangutan Reintroduction Program at Nyaru Menteng and the first cross-province orangutan release from Central Kalimantan Orangutan Reintroduction Program (Nyaru Menteng) to the Kehje Sewen forest in East Kalimantan. This first cross-province orangutan release involved the collaboration of three of our programs – Nyaru Menteng, Samboja Lestari, and Orangutan Habitat Restoration (RHO).  Although complicated to organise, these activities are critical in order to ensure the preservation of this unique species.

Following the required DNA testing procedure prior to any planned orangutan reintroduction event and in line with national and international (IUCN) guidelines, the BOS Foundation received information that eight of our orangutans were not situated in the correct geographical locations.  Although these orangutans had been through years of rehabilitation at our two Orangutan Rehabilitation Centers, 5 orangutans located at Samboja Lestari in East Kalimantan were of Central Kalimantan provenance hence we relocated those individuals to our centre at Nyaru Menteng on Thursday 28 November 2013.  Furthermore and located at Nyaru Menteng, Central Kalimantan, DNA test results showed that three orangutans – mother-daughter Sayang and Yayang, along with an adult female, Diah – were Pongo pygmaeus morio, which naturally occur in the eastern part of Kalimantan.  A transfer process had to be carried out.

Yayang, Sayang and Diah

At 14.31 WITA, a Twin Otter fixed-wing aircraft carried Yayang, Sayang, and Diah from Central Kalimantan to Sepinggan Airport, Balikpapan, East Kalimantan. This journey was accompanied by Program Manager of Samboja Lestari drh. Agus Irwanto, technician Imam Ghozali, and Media Romadona, BOS Foundation’s Communications Officer. Diah was the first to be unloaded from the aircraft, followed by Yayang and Sayang.

They were unloaded from the aircraft.

After the cages were unloaded, the three orangutans were transferred to bigger travel cages so that they could move much more freely since the next part of the journey to Swakarsa airport would take approximately 20 hours by road.  Safe in their travel cages, these orangutans were then loaded onto a truck. At exactly 15.00 WITA on Saturday 30 November 2013, the team led by our Coordinator of Animal Welfare and Forest School 3, Wiwik Astutik departed to Swakarsa Airport.

Moved to a bigger travel cage.

Kehje Sewen Forest: Release Points and Helipad Preparation

The previous day, and within our Ecosystem Restoration Concession (ERC) the Kehje Sewen Forest, the team had been busy preparing everything for the arrival of Yayang, Sayang, and Diah, including ensuring the helipad and the exact locations in the forest where we would release these three orangutans were ready.

Preparing release and helipad area.

Final Trip to Kehje Sewen

Traveling all night, at 08.09 WITA on 1 December 2013, the truck transporting Yayang, Sayang, and Diah arrived at Swakarsa Airport. drh. Anin continuously checked the condition of the three orangutans during the journey and they were all declared in good health on arrival.

Yayang-Sayang was being continuously checked by dr. Anin.

Meanwhile in Kehje Sewen, the weather was beautiful and clear and brought hope that today’s activity would go as planned.  Everything during these finely detailed transport operations depends on good weather!  A day of rain can mean that we have to delay all operations and we plan for every eventuality.

Kehje Sewen in the morning.

Not long after, the helicopter that would take the orangutans to Kehje Sewen arrived at Swakarsa Airport and immediately refueled in order to continue the journey to the forest.  While waiting, the pilot prepared the sling line and cargo net that would be used to carry Yayang, Sayang, and Diah.

Checking the sling and cargo net.

When the helicopter was ready, Yayang, Sayang, and Diah were carried and secured safely into the cargo net. Yayang and Sayang were the first to be loaded, followed by Diah.

Yayang-Sayang and Diah were moved into a cargo net.

The helicopter was ready to take Yayang, Sayang, and Diah home and at exactly 10:32 WITA, the helicopter flew to the Kehje Sewen Forest.  It had been a very long journey for both the orangutans and our team and although delighted to see the orangutans finally go back to the wild, we couldn’t help but feel a mixed emotions between happiness and sadness to say goodbye to Yayang, Sayang, and Diah.

Ready to take off to Kehje Sewen forest.

Welcome Home, Yayang-Sayang, and Diah!

At 11.00 WITA, the roar of helicopter propeller was heard getting closer and closer to Camp 103 in the Kehje Sewen forest. Not long after, the helicopter was seen from afar and flew closer to the helipad carrying Yayang-Sayang and Diah’s travel cages in the cargo net.

Safely landed in Kehje Sewen.

When the two cages in the cargo net touched the ground and the helicopter landed perfectly nearby, Helicopter Landing Officer (HLO) Masino from Samboja Lestari along with the rest of the team proceeded to open the cargo net and retrieve the cages. Vet Dermawan Saputra from Samboja Lestari immediately checked the condition of the three orangutans who all looked healthy.

drh. Putra checked the orangutans condition.

After all three of the orangutans were checked by drh. Putra, the team then prepared to carry the three female orangutans to their pre-assigned release points.

Helicopter departed to Balikpapan

Since  landing in Kehje Sewen, Diah was clearly upset by the presence of the team near to her. Several times she smacked her cage and looked angry when the team were busily securing her cage, in order to easily carry her to her release point. Meanwhile, Yayang looked relaxed, even though her daughter Sayang kiss-squeaked at the team several times.

Cages were ready to be carried to the release point.

The team immediately carried Yayang-Sayang and Diah’s cages to the release points. As soon as the team went into the forest, the three orangutans calmed down. Diah was no longer upset. She looked relaxed, lying down in her cage while the team carried her cage with great effort. Sayang clung to her Mum. Often her small fingers reached out between the bars, trying to grab the rope around her cage, as if she could not wait to get out.

The team carried the cages to the release point.

The release points of the mother-daughter and adult female orangutans were on the west side of Camp 103. Yayang and Sayang’s release point was 1.8 km from Camp, while Diah’s release point was 1.5 km from Camp. It took a fairly long time for the team to carry Yayang-Sayang and Diah to their release points due to the rugged terrain. After 1.5 hours, Yayang-Sayang and Diah finally reached the destination.


Yayang and Sayang at the release point.

Yayang-Sayang and Diah are Finally Home

Yayang and Sayang’s travel cage was opened by Ario Sambodo, Head of the Operational Department of RHOI at exactly 01:28 pm.  As soon as the cage was opened, little Sayang directly dashed out of the cage. Followed by her mother, Yayang, they both climbed the nearest tree in full confidence.   All of those years on the pre-release islands in Central Kalimantan had given these two orangutans an immense learning experience of surviving in the forest.

Ariyo Sambodo opened Yayang and Sayang’s cage.

Yayang and Sayang then grabbed some Calamus sp., Croton arygyratus and Epiphyte leaves and consumed them hungrily. Sayang swung from one tree to another briskly.  Sometimes Yayang grabbed her daughter’s hand to make sure that she was not traveling too far away. If that didn’t work, Yayang simply followed  her daughter Sayang wherever she went.

Yayang and Sayang, first moments of their freedom.

Meanwhile, Diah’s cage was opened by Azwar. He is one of the first team of experts who conducted the initial survey of Kehje Sewen forest to ensure its suitability for orangutans. Azwar opened the cage at 01.52 pm.  When Azwar opened the padlock, Diah sat impatiently waiting and sometimes shook her cage. Once the cage was opened, this lovely female orangutan directly made her way out and climbed a towering tree.

Azwar opened Diah’s cage.

Diah stopped climbing for a moment to look down at the team, but after a moment continued climbing up higher and higher. Up in the tree, Diah busied herself enjoying young leaves of Croton argyratus.

Diah after being released.

Welcomed by the Fruity Season in Kehje Sewen

Finally, they are now back to their home province, East Kalimantan.  Yayang has been living in Central Kalimantan for nine years and Diah for 13 years. The Monitoring Team will closely observe them and make sure that they adapt well to their new environment in the Kehje Sewen forest, after years of living in Central Kalimantan.

It is currently fruiting season in Kehje Sewen and there are an abundance of Liana, Geunsia pentandra, Artocarpus sp, Palaqium, Koordersiodendron pinnatum fruit available, plus many more (Adinandra, Macaranga,  Geunsia pentandra, Aglaia, Litsea, Croton argyratus, Calamus, Epiphyte, Ficus).  Yayang-Sayang and Diah should have no trouble finding food.

Fruit Liana

The three orangutans are enjoying their new home to the fullest and were observed happily consuming the variety of fruits available.  Once settled, we let them enjoy the dense Kehje Sewen forest while we returned to the camp full of emotion and hope for their future. Welcome home, Yayang, Sayang and Diah and enjoy the delightful fruiting season.

The three orangutans are enjoying their new home

Masino: Orangutan Keeper and Samboja Lestari HLO

Yayang, Sayang and Diah’s release event is the first cross-province release conducted by the BOS Foundation.  On this occasion, Masino, from Samboja Lestari also had a first time experience!  He was appointed and trained as one of our Helicopter Landing Officer’s. With his clear direction, the helicopter and orangutan cages landed perfectly on Camp 103’s helipad.  Having completed his first task in this new role, Masino then joined the RHOI team in taking Yayang, Sayang and Diah’s cages to their release site.

Masino admitted that he was a little nervous in his new role as a HLO – it is a huge responsibility. It was a big moment for the BOS Foundation to safely transport orangutans from Central Kalimantan to their true home in East Kalimantan for the very first time, and the final part of this task was Masino’s responsibility; to safely direct the helicopter so that Yayang, Sayang and Diah would land safely.

Masino

Although he didn’t know Yayang, Sayang and Diah before, Masino said that he was moved when he witnessed the orangutans climb out from their cages and into the towering trees above. “I am so happy to see them finally back in their rightful home in East Kalimantan. Moreover, Diah who was once living in Samboja Lestari and moved to Nyaru Menteng for 13 years is now back!”

Masino hopes that all of the 5 orangutans (who he knows very well) that we returned from Samboja Lestari to Central Kalimantan, especially Cici who is very active, can adapt well in their natural habitat and be released back to the real Central Kalimantan forest as soon as possible.

Congratulation and a big thank to Masino who has done his job very well! Keep the spirit burning!

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Orangutan release activities – especially cross-province activities – are very costly. Help us send more orangutans home by donating at http://orangutan.or.id/donate.

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Text by: Paulina L. Ela (BOSF Communications Specialist) & Monica Devi Krisnasari (BOSF Adoption Program Coordinator).

Photos by: Indrayana, Media Romadona, Monica Devi Krisnasari, Awal and Suwardi.

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[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

A New Life in Kehje Sewen

The Couple, Emerson and Sarmi

These four orangutans; Emerson, Sarmi, Mona and Inge, have been living in the Kehje Sewen Forest for two weeks, and Emerson looks like he is increasingly enjoying his new life in the new home. Emerson especially is already demonstrating that he is adapting very happily to life in the forest.  Back on October 13, 2013, the day he was reintroduced to the forest, the PRM team recorded that Emerson spent much time just simply observing his surroundings. He looked around, watching us from the tree where he was hanging and finally as the night drew in over the Kehje Sewen forest, he made his very first long-call, claiming his new territory.

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Emerson, enjoying his new life in the forest.

Emerson seemed more excited when he was finally reunited with Sarmi on his second day in the forest. Sarmi who had also just been reintroduced to the forest together with Mona, is Emerson’s closest friend since they lived together on the Pre-release Island in Samboja Lestari. When they were finally reunited, they started to explore Kehje Sewen forest. They played and foraged together. The PRM team’s observation results show that Emerson and Sarmi have tried cambium barks of Mahang (Macaranga sp.) and Jackfruit (Actocarpus sp.) tree. They also enjoyed fruits and young leaves of Aglaia sp., Spatholobus sp., Xylopia sp. and many more.

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Emerson is enjoying cambium bark.

Sarmi seems to be a bit more of an adventurer than Emerson and when they are not travelling together, Sarmi loves to explore the Kehje Sewen Forest further on her own. Only a few days after being reintroduced, Sarmi had already traveled up to the Piapung area, around 1.6 km from her release point. However, this avid adventurer still returns to her release point.  She seems to be getting her bearings and using her memory as a built in compass to assess her new home.

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Sarmi playing in her new home.

Most of the time, Sarmi is busy exploring her new surroundings and playing up in the trees, while Emerson prefers to keep observing and learning his new area at a more relaxed pace. After his very first long-call, which he made on his first night in the forest, Emerson continuously made long-calls in the following days, of course to claim Kehje Sewen Forest as his new kingdom! Everyone in the forest should be aware, the big guy has finally arrived.

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Sarmi, relaxing in one tree branch.

The Lovely Mona and the Intruder, Sarmi

These past few days, Mona looked a little upset towards Sarmi. Why? Because Sarmi has continuously been bothering Mona. Actually, Sarmi just wanted to ask her to play together, but Mona didn’t seem keen on the idea.  Perhaps because she preferred to enjoy her new home by herself. Mona tried many ways to chase Sarmi away, but Sarmi was not one who easily gives up. She repeatedly approached Mona and asked her to play, unfortunately to no avail since Mona still refused.

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Mona looked a little upset towards Sarmi.

Mona is still in the adaptation phase and it may take some time for her to get used to her new home. The good thing is that she keeps on trying and learning. Mona loves to try new foods. According to the PRM team, she has tried Mahang (Macaranga sp.), Puloh (Pternandra cogniauxii), Kedondong (Kordersiodendron pinnatum), Mango (Mangifera sp.), rattan young leaves and her favorite Kunau-kunau (Baccaurea tetandra) fruit. She really loves it and sometimes she enjoys this food all day long!

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Mona is still in the adaption phase.

Up to today, the PRM team is still observing Mona’s development. Let’s hope that Mona can adapt more to her new home in the near future so that she feels more settled and can play together again with her old friend Sarmi.

Is Inge Still ‘The Little Miss Clean’?

How about Inge, our 100th orangutan? According to the PRM Team, Inge seems to be enjoying her time in the Kehje Sewen Forest. Although not going too far, Inge loves to travel and explore her new area. She has also tried various foods such as Kedondong (Koordersiodenron pinnatum), Kalanggo (Duabanga Moluccana), Aglaia sp., Jackfurit (Actocarpus sp.), Rattan, Ginger (Zingiberaceae), fern and many more. One clever young lady!

Inge, bergantung (wulan)

Inge playing up in the tree.

She looks really happy trying and discovering new things. Apparently, Inge is still ‘The Little Miss Clean’! The PRM team saw her cleaning her body several times.  When there were dry leaves or small twigs falling upon her head, she immediately pats her head trying to clean it up.

Inge, saat ada daun jatuh, ia membersihkan kepalanya (wulan)

When there were dry leaves or small twigs falling upon her head, she immediately pats her head.

One day, one of the PRM team members saw her playing by the river. At first she was just playing with the water. Yet after a while, she began to wash her hand, head, foot and her body. She looked like she was thoroughly enjoying her time playing with water. She is one of our orangutans who seems able to adapt to the forest easily, according to the PRM team observations results

Good job Emerson, Sarmi, Mona and Inge! We do hope that you can learn much more from the real forest and continue thriving as orangutans living in the wild. Enjoy your new lives in the Kehje Sewen Forest!

Text and photos by: Putri Wulansari, PRM Team Coordinator

Samboja Lestari Orangutan Release Day-2: 100 Orangutans are Back in the Wild!

The forest looked so charming from the air as the helicopter circled the area to check the weather this morning. The sun shed a soft, pale light on the majestic Kehje Sewen, bathing everything in an ethereal, elevating glow. It was the final day of Orangutan Release activities this month and we were again blessed with wonderful weather.

A bright and beautiful morning in Kehje Sewen

A bright and beautiful morning in Kehje Sewen

Dr. Aldrianto Priadjati, RHOI Deputy Director of Conservation, conducted a short briefing this morning. Yesterday’s success and Emerson’s long call last night had helped set the spirit high. It was a transformative feeling. Then, empty travel cages were packed and loaded onto the helicopter. Soon after, it lifted and hovered for a minute or two over Camp 103, then disappeared in the glorious morning sky. The helicopter was heading back to Uyang Lahai Airport in Miau Baru Village. Another busy day had just started.

Morning in Samboja

Miles away in the tiny suburb of Samboja, another team was getting ready. Six orangutans in the Socialization Enclosure A of Samboja Lestari Orangutan Reintroduction Program were especially intrigued by the early morning activities around them. Acong, Agus, Noel, Mayang, Inge and Siwie seemed to sense that something important was going on. They were quite right. Today was the day they would no longer have bars to keep them apart from the world they were born into. A world of freedom.

Inge and Siwie intuitively got closer together as Vet Agus Irwanto, who is also Samboja Lestari’s Program Manager, put on his gloves and prepared to sedate them. Wiwik Astutik, Samboja Lestari’s Coordinator of Animal Welfare and Forest School 3 watched anxiously like a mother about to see her children leaving for college overseas. These six, Inge in particular, had been her students, her children and her best friends for nearly all of her time in the BOS Foundation. Wiwik was happy and nervous at the same time.

Inge and Siwie intuitively got closer together as the vet prepared to sedate them

Inge and Siwie intuitively got closer together as the vet prepared to sedate them

The 100th Orangutan!

Inge, Noel and Siwie were all successfully sedated by around 7.30 am. After they were all transferred into their respective travel cages, Wiwik approached Inge’s travel cage. She was already awake. Wiwik lovingly talked to her, giving Inge her final words of encouragement. A moment froze in time. Wiwik was reliving all the memories of the past 11 years with her, caring for her, nurturing her and teaching her to be who she really is – a wild orangutan. Inge was the “Little Miss Clean”, a princess who had been kept as a pet for too long, altering her natural behavior. She was weak, tame, shy and unusually clean.

But look at her now. She is everything but weak and tame and shy and unusually clean. She is strong, intelligent and independent. In fact, she is a dominant female orangutan. Wiwik is so proud of her, but sad to say goodbye. She tickled Inge’s chin briefly then let the technicians load her onto the truck.

Wiwik approached Inge and gave her the final words of encouragement

Wiwik approached Inge and gave her the final words of encouragement

Yes, if you haven’t already guessed, Inge is the BOS Foundation’s 100th Orangutan to be released in the wild since 2012!

Flying Away

Agus, Acong and Mayang were soon sedated as well and transferred into their travel cages. By 8.45 am, all were ready go. The travel cages sat comfortably on the truck and the team departed to Sepinggan Airport in Balikpapan. The six orangutans left the comfort of the idyllic restored forest of Samboja Lestari. Challenges lie ahead but they were ready. They were going to their real home.

The trip to the airport took around one hour. Arriving there, the team had to wait a bit for the final preparations of the airplane. At 10.45 am, the cages were finally unloaded from the truck and loaded onto the Premiair Grand Caravan, the same aircraft that took Emerson, Sarmi and Mona yesterday.

Truck carrying the six orangutans arrived at Sepinggan Airport, Balikpapan

Truck carrying the six orangutans arrived at Sepinggan Airport, Balikpapan

Acong and Inge were loaded first, followed by Noel, Siwie, Mayang and Agus. Wiwik and Vet Putra also boarded the airplane accompanying their six fury friends on the first leg of their journey. This flight would take them from Sepinggan Airport in Balikpapan to Uyang Lahai Airport in Miau Baru. At 11.13 am, the Grand Caravan took off and landed safely at Uyang Lahai around an hour later, welcomed by the Orangutan Release Team in Miau Baru.

There were two helicopter flights into Kehje Sewen today, each carrying three orangutans. The first group consisted of Agus, Acong and Mayang. They were immediately loaded on the sling load. But before the sling net was secured, the team gave them some food and drinks, and bid farewell to these Forest School graduates. It was the last time they were fed by humans. After this, it was up to them to find their own food.

Helicopter leaving Uyang Lahai with Agus, Acong and Mayang on sling load

Helicopter leaving Uyang Lahai with Agus, Acong and Mayang on sling load

The helicopter took off at 12.37 am and arrived in Kehje Sewen at 1.18 pm. The sky was blue and the air was deliciously crisp. The team in Kehje Sewen Forest was ready and the engines of the pickup cars were started as the three travel cages were loaded onto them.

For the Wild at Heart

Unlike Emerson, Sarmi and Mona who were released around the Lembu River area, today’s release was conducted at a different location, away from the Lembu River. This is because Emerson, Sarmi and Mona are semi-wild orangutans who still retained some or all of their forest skills at the time of their rescues. While the remaining six orangutans are rehabilitants who were orphaned at a very young age and thus had to learn their skills from humans at Forest School. These rehabilitated orangutans, or rehabilitants, may not be able to compete with wild or semi-wild orangutans in search for food and therefore must be separated from them. This is just one of the many criteria we have to consider when choosing a suitable site for their release.

Gunung Belah is an area blissfully untouched by time

Gunung Belah is an area blissfully untouched by time

The chosen release site for Agus, Acong and Mayang was located at the area of Gunung Belah, the same area where the BOS Foundation released Casey and her friends back in April 2012. It is an area blissfully untouched by time, filled with thick vegetation, towering trees and wild forest food. It is the perfect home for the wild at heart, home for the orangutans.

Agus was definitely getting very impatient by the time they arrived at the release site. He was screaming and banging on his cage. So the team let him out first. Adoption Coordinator Monica and Samboja Lestari Technician Angga opened his cage door. Sure enough, Agus sprinted to the nearest tree and climbed to the top in lighting speed. He really wanted to get out. Don’t worry, Agus. You will never have to go back in a cage. You’re home now!

Agus really wanted to get out!

Agus really wanted to get out!

Then Dr. Aldrianto Priadjati opened Mayang’s travel cage. Unlike Agus, Mayang took her time examining the new environment. She walked and looked around, choosing a tree. But when she did, she too quickly climbed to the top and rested in the height of the canopy.

Mayang finally chose a tree to climb

Mayang finally chose a tree to climb

Acong was a character. She seemed calm in her travel cage, waiting patiently for her turn. But when RHOI Technician Syawal opened her cage, she turned around and chased everyone to the river. She was clearly just as frustrated as Agus was. Who can blame her? It was a long and tiring journey, indeed.

She stood there by the riverside for a while, eyeing the team carefully. But soon enough, she took to a tree near the river and started to climb. The team let out a breath of relief and returned to Camp 103. The first three orangutans are now home.

Acong didn’t want to see humans around her

Acong didn’t want to see humans around her

Heartfelt Goodbyes from Wiwik

In the meantime the helicopter arrived back at Uyang Lahai to pick up the final three – Noel, Siwie and, our 100th Orangutan, Inge. Time was precious. It was already 2 o’clock in the afternoon. The team rolled up their sleeves again and loaded the travel cages onto the sling load while the helicopter was refueled.

While waiting, Wiwik stayed with Inge, giving her fruits once in a while

While waiting, Wiwik stayed with Inge, giving her fruits once in a while

There were heartfelt goodbyes at Uyang Lahai along with the familiar warmth all of us on the Orangutan Release Team feel no matter how many times we have witnessed this. Wiwik in particular fell silent, trying to hide her tears. Her babies have all grown up. Inge, the little princess, has also grown up, ready to venture on her own.

We pin high hopes on their shoulders, the hopes to see a new generation of wild orangutans in the near future. Wiwik knew this. She looked up to the sky as the helicopter disappeared in the clouds, wiped her tears, and smiled.

Happy but nervous at the same time, Wiwik tried to hide her tears

Happy but nervous at the same time, Wiwik tried to hide her tears

Moments of Freedom

The helicopter landed in Kehje Sewen 45 minutes later. One technician was especially eager to welcome this group. He was one of Inge’s teachers at Forest School during her early years at Samboja Lestari. His name is Syahrul and he would be the one opening Inge’s travel cage. He was touched by the honor and could not wait to see his former student finally be where she truly belongs.

Syahrul and the rest of the Orangutan Release Team loaded the cages onto the pickup cars that took them to a walking trail leading to the release site at Gunung Belah, from where they continued on foot. At 3.23 pm, they arrived on site and began the release of Noel. Pak Min, a local driver from Pelangsiran – a transit town at the border of Kehje Sewen Forest – who has helped and supported us tremendously in every activity in the forest, was given the chance to open Noel’s cage.

Noel enjoying his new home

Noel enjoying his new home

Like Acong, Noel also became a bit aggressive. Fortunately, the team managed to avoid any conflicts with him. He soon climbed a liana and swung around happily enjoying his first few moments of his freedom.

Next, vet Anin opened Siwie’s cage. After the experiences with Acong and Noel, the team was a little worried that Siwie too was a little agitated. But good-natured Siwie did not even pay any attention to anyone around her. She grabbed a liana and swung to a Magnolia tree. There she rested relishing her new forest home.

Good-natured Siwie, climbing on a tree trunk

Good-natured Siwie, climbing on a tree trunk

The 100th Orangutan is Free!

The moment had come for the 100th Orangutan. The “Little Miss Clean”. The lovely princess. The special one with red lips and gorgeous hair. It was finally Inge’s turn to be released.

Syahrul, who has worked in Samboja Lestari for 17 years, unlocked the cage and opened its door. Inge came out leisurely and, for a moment, just stood nearby. Syahrul was only one meter away from her. Inge looked at him for a few seconds, as if saying goodbye, then also found a Magnolia tree. She climbed the tree and started eating. She is indeed an expert in finding wild forest food!

The 100th Orangutan’s cage was about to be opened by Syahrul

The 100th Orangutan’s cage was about to be opened by Syahrul

Syahrul was speechless. He was so moved by the experience, he couldn’t say a word for a while. Then finally, “It’s unbelievable. There were times when I thought she would never be released. She was so spoiled. Now look at her. Just look at her!” he said proudly. Inge will no longer be remembered as the “Little Miss Clean” or the “Princess”. Wild and free, she will be remembered forever as the 100th Orangutan released by the BOS Foundation.

We Thank YOU!

The helicopter took off and returned to Balikpapan, leaving the otherworldly views of Kehje Sewen Forest behind. The Orangutan Release Team was finally able to stretch on their beds and get some rest. On the contrary, the Post-Release Monitoring (PRM) Team has started to get busy.

Inge, the 100th orangutan, says thank YOU!

Inge, the 100th orangutan, says thank YOU!

There are now 18 orangutans in Kehje Sewen to monitor closely. Adding the 82 Central Kalimantan orangutans released in Bukit Batikap Conservation Forest since 2012, the BOS Foundation has successfully reintroduced a total of 100 orangutans into their natural habitat. It is a milestone that would not be possible without the incredible support from all stakeholders, including the Government of Indonesia, local communities around the release sites, private sector donors, individual donors, partner organizations and other conservation organizations across the globe. On behalf of the 100 orangutans, we thank YOU!

And we also thank YOU!

And we also thank YOU!

SUPPORT THE ORANGUTAN RELEASE ACTIVITIES

AND HELP US SEND MORE ORANGUTANS BACK TO THEIR FREEDOM!

DONATE HERE:

http://www.orangutan.or.id/donate

Text by: The BOS Foundation and RHOI Communications Team

Samboja Lestari Orangutan Release Day-1: A Beautiful Goodbye

The sun had not arisen yet and the fog was still lingering. But the Orangutan Release Team at Samboja Lestari were already preparing for the release event today. At 5 in the morning, we gathered at the fruit storage area for an early breakfast together. Thereafter the team headed to the release candidates’ enclosures.

The Veterinarians and technicians getting ready for today’s Orangutan Release

The Veterinarians and technicians getting ready for today’s Orangutan Release

Today, three orangutans were going to be released: Emerson, Sarmi and Mona. Six other candidates, Acong, Agus, Noel, Mayang, Inge and Siwie will be released tomorrow. The Samboja Lestari veterinarian team, which consisted of Vets Agus, Agnes, and Putra, prepared the sedation doses. Technician Imam Gozali was appointed to administer the anesthetic darts for the first three orangutans.

Three of our team members – Ahmat (the Helicopter Landing Officer or HLO whom we seconded from the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Reintroduction Program), Monica (Adoption Coordinator and part of our Communications Team) and Vet Anin – were already on the way to Sepinggan Airport in Balikpapan. They flew by helicopter from Balikpapan, transited in Uyang Lahai Airport in Miau Baru Village for a quick refueling, and headed straight to the Kehje Sewen Forest. They arrived safely in the forest at around 10 am.

Three of our team members departed first to Kehje Sewen Forest

Three of our team members departed first to Kehje Sewen Forest

Last Day in Captivity

Back in Samboja Lestari, it was the last day in captivity for Emerson, Mona and Sarmi. Mona was the first to be sedated at 6 am. She was the first because she is infamous for being quite resistant to anesthetic. It would take sometime until the sedation took effect on her. The first attempt failed because Mona pulled the dart out immediately as it hit her. The second attempt, however, seemed to work.

Waiting for Mona to fall asleep

Waiting for Mona to fall asleep

While waiting for Mona to fall asleep, the technicians started the sedation process for the giant male, Emerson. Like Mona, it took two attempts to successfully sedate Emerson. Meanwhile, Mona still had not fallen asleep, thus the vet decided to give her an extra dose. As soon as she was asleep, she was immediately moved to her travel cage.

Sarmi was the last to be sedated. Despite her kiss-squeaking, protesting the presence of so many humans around her, she was finally sedated at 6.30 am. Meanwhile, it took 15 people to move and transfer Emerson to his transport cage because of his weight and size. Finally, all orangutans were safe inside their travel cages and they were all loaded onto a truck that would take them to Sepinggan Airport in Balikpapan.

It took 15 people to transfer Emerson to his travel cage

It took 15 people to transfer Emerson to his travel cage

Flight to Freedom

It was 7.30 am when the team and orangutans departed to Sepinggan Airport where the Premiair Grand Caravan aircraft was waiting. The orangutans would be accompanied by Vet Agnes and technician Ferdy to the new Uyang Lahai Airport in Miau Baru Village, a village located around 15-20 minutes from Muara Wahau.

We arrived at Sepinggan Airport at 8.30 am. Mechanics from Premiair were conducting the necessary final preparations for the flight. This flight would also carry the logistical supplies for the team at Camp 103 in the Kehje Sewen Forest and also the sling net. This sling net is a vital piece of equipment as these orangutans would be transported by a helicopter from Miau to Camp 103 using the sling load method. A representative of BCA Bank, one of our donors for this orangutan release event, also attended and witnessed the whole process at the airport.

Emerson’s travel cage barely fits into the airplane door

Emerson’s travel cage barely fits into the airplane door

After the airplane was ready, Mona, Sarmi and Emerson were unloaded from the truck and transferred onto the airplane.  And not long after, our three orangutan friends took off on their first leg of the journey to freedom. At Sepinggan Airport, there was a mixed feeling of relief, joy and sadness as we bid our goodbyes to beloved Emerson, Sarmi and Mona. It was a beautiful goodbye.

To Borneo’s Fertile Heart

Meanwhile at Uyang Lahai Airport, the Release Team was also on standby since morning. The helicopter that transported Ahmat, Monica and Vet Anin arrived back at Uyang Lahai at around 10.40 am. Twenty minutes later, the Grand Caravan aircraft also landed safely. Emerson, Sarmi and Mona were immediately unloaded.

Airplane carrying Emerson, Sarmi and Mona arriving at Uyang Lahai Airport

Airplane carrying Emerson, Sarmi and Mona arriving at Uyang Lahai Airport

The first orangutan to fly to the heart of Borneo’s rainforests was Emerson. He was going solo since the helicopter could only take him alone due to his enormous size and heavy weight. Sarmi and Mona had to wait at Uyang Lahai Airport for the next flight. After Emerson’s travel cage was secured within the sling load, the helicopter took off to the final destination, Kehje Sewen.

Emerson on sling load ready to take off

Emerson on sling load ready to take off

Emerson was joyfully welcomed by the Release Team in Kehje Sewen 45 minutes later. The helicopter then went back to Uyang Lahai to pick up the two orangutan ladies who patiently waited for their turn.

While waiting for Mona and Sarmi, the team in Kehje Sewen transported Emerson to the pre-designated release site in the Lembu River area, around 3.75 km from Camp 103. To get there, Emerson’s travel cage must be loaded onto a pickup truck and transported across the Lesik River, a large rapid-water river that lies behind our camp. Then the journey continued on foot. The team had to carry Emerson’s travel cage all the way to his release site.

Transporting Emerson across the Lesik River

Transporting Emerson across the Lesik River

Arriving at the release site, Emerson’s travel cage was not opened right away. Accompanied by a couple of technicians from Samboja Lestari, he had to wait for Sarmi and Mona. The ladies would be released first, then Emerson last. The rest of the team hurried back to the helipad at Camp 103 to welcome the two females.

Mona and Sarmi finally departed to the forest from Uyang Lahai at around 1.30 PM and arrived in Kehje Sewen at 2.15 PM. Like Emerson, they too were transported by a pickup truck across the river and carried by foot to the same release sites as Emerson’s. Three release points had been prepared and the moments of freedom were finally in sight.

Sarmi and Mona arriving in Kehje Sewen

Sarmi and Mona arriving in Kehje Sewen

Home Sweet Home

Mona was the first to be released. Technician Yadi from Samboja Lestari opened her travel cage and instead of immediately climbing the nearest tree, Mona decided to strike a pose first by her cage. Maybe she knew that we had planted cameras everywhere to take her photographs. It was comical. But soon enough, she started climbing, and climbing higher and higher. Mona was finally free!

Mona posing for a moment by her travel cage before climbing a tree

Mona posing for a moment by her travel cage before climbing a tree

Sarmi was next. RHOI Post-Release Monitoring (PRM) Coordinator, Wulan, opened the door to her travel cage. Unlike Mona, Sarmi didn’t waste any time. She chose a tree and climbed right away. Then she stopped at a nice sturdy branch in the canopy and she, too, posed for the camera!

Spotting Mona on a nearby tree, Sarmi decided to approach her long-time friend. She poked Mona on the elbow to ask her to play. But Mona, still tired from the effect of sedation and the long journey to the forest, looked a bit irritated and ignored Sarmi’s request to hang out. The drama in the forest has started.

Sarmi asking Mona to hang out with her

Sarmi asking Mona to hang out with her

Last but not least, Emerson’s travel cage was opened by Samboja Lestari’s Technician, Agus. The big guy did not look happy. He must have been very tired and grumpy at having to wait for Sarmi and Mona. So he was a bit angry seeing Agus approaching his cage. He probably thought he was going to be transported somewhere else again. He shook his cage forcefully and attempted to damage the locks of the cage.

Another technician, Sam, tried to divert his attention by waving a leafy branch at him. It worked. Agus successfully opened his cage and Emerson hurtled out to the nearest tree and quickly climbed it. He finally calmed down and rested on a branch. Looking down at us, he didn’t look so angry anymore. He looked happy. In fact, the latest report received from the PRM Team this afternoon said that Emerson had made his first long call just before dusk telling everyone in the forest that the big guy had arrived!

Emerson’s first moments of freedom

Emerson’s first moments of freedom

Emerson, Sarmi and Mona are settling into a new life in the forest. A life they deserve, a life of freedom. The Kehje Sewen Forest is their new home sweet home.

The first day has concluded successfully. The emotion of the entire team is indescribable. We are filled with joy for these magnificent three and tomorrow, six more orangutans will claim this beautiful forest as their home. Let’s hope for another day of great weather and smooth journey for Acong, Agus, Noel, Mayang, Inge and Siwie.

One of these six is our 100th orangutan to be released by the BOS Foundation since 2012. Find out who it is tomorrow!

SUPPORT THE ORANGUTAN RELEASE ACTIVITIES

AND HELP US SEND MORE ORANGUTANS BACK TO THEIR FREEDOM!

DONATE HERE:

http://www.orangutan.or.id/donate

Text by: The BOS Foundation and RHOI Communications Team

The 100th Orangutan! [Part 3]

“She was always special… A little princess with beautiful hair and red lips…” said Anta, a former veterinarian of the BOS Foundation who was on duty at the time this female orangutan arrived and was in charge of her health and welfare for the first few years of her stay at Samboja Lestari.

A copy of her medical record when she first arrived at Samboja Lestari.

A copy of her medical record when she first arrived at Samboja Lestari.

According to Vet Anta, she was a healthy orangutan but they were struggling to keep her alive because she didn’t seem to have enough will to live. And because she was “Miss Clean” and always played inside, she became the target of bullying by other orangutans in her group. The babysitters had to keep a close eye on her otherwise she would be bullied. So the problem was not physical, but psychological. The first thing to do was to build her self-confidence. And the Forest School successfully gave her that.

“That’s why I was delightfully surprised and so touched that she is now ready to be released!” Anta wrote excitedly on a text message sent to Vet Agus, Samboja Lestari’s current Program Manager. “She was one of the weakest. I’m so happy to learn that she is now a dominant female, intelligent and independent. Forest School does work!” Anta added enthusiastically.

Forest School does work, indeed. She graduated top of her class and was relocated to the Socialization Enclosure A with Noel, Agus, Acong and the rest of the orangutans who are considered ready to be released. And there she waited, killing time and boredom by taking advantage of all enrichment materials provided for her.

After graduating Forest School, she was placed at the Socialization Enclosure A.

After graduating Forest School, she was placed at the Socialization Enclosure A.

At the Socialization Enclosure, she was looked after by three Technicians – Yadi, Masino, and Imam. The three technicians also had a special memory about her. “Whenever she wanted some water to drink or to bathe, she threw things at us. Most of the time she threw coconut fibers at us to let us know she was thirsty or wanted a shower,” they recalled, laughing at the memory.

While Vet Agus and Vet Agnes both loved to tease her. They would ask her to show her teeth and she would press her face on the enclosure bars and purse her lips, making a duck face at them.

When teased, she makes cute duck faces at you!

When teased, she makes cute duck faces at you!

She really is a special orangutan. Letting her go into the wild is bittersweet for the team at Samboja Lestari. But letting her go, they must. It is time. She no longer has to wait, killing time and boredom by playing with enrichment tools, throwing things at technicians, and making duck faces at veterinarians. She is going home!

She will be the 100th ORANGUTAN to return to the forest!

Who is she?

Keep watching this space (and our Facebook pages and Twitters) to find out the answer soon!

SUPPORT THE 100th ORANGUTAN

BY DONATING HERE:

http://orangutan.or.id/donate/

[PRESS RELEASE] 100 Orangutans Have Been Released by the BOS Foundation

Dedicated to the commemmoration of World Habitat Day on October 7, 2013, the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation East Kalimantan Orangutan Reintroduction Center in Samboja Lestari releases 9 orangutans to their natural habitat. This release marks the 100th orangutan reintroduction by the BOS Foundation back into the wild.

Samboja Lestari, East Kalimantan, October 13, 2013. Since February 2012, the BOS Foundation have released 91 orangutans; 82 orangutans from their rehabilitation center in Nyaru Menteng, Central Kalimantan, and 9 orangutans from their rehabilitation center in Samboja Lestari, East Kalimantan. On October 13-14, 2013, the BOS Foundation release 9 more orangutans from Samboja Lestari to their natural habitat in commemmoration of World Habitat Day 2013, bringing the total released orangutans since 2012 to 100 individuals.

foto untuk press release

Nine orangutans depart from the BOS Foundation East Kalimantan Orangutan Reintroduction Center in Samboja Lestari to designated release points in the Kehje Sewen Forest in East Kutai and Kutai Kertanegara Regencies. These orangutans comprise 6 females and 3 males, of whom the profiles can be read in more detail in the attached file entitled Orangutan Release Candidate Profiles.

The nine orangutans depart from East Kalimantan Orangutan Reintroduction Program in Samboja Lestari to Sepinggan Airport, Balikpapan. From Sepinggan Airport, they are transported to Uyang Lahai Airport, in Miau Baru Village, Sub-District of Kumbeang, Kutai Timur Regency. From Uyang Lahai towards Kehje Sewen, the orangutans are transported by a helicopter through several flight groups. On the first day, October 13 2013, three individuals are transported and the remaining six will be flown on the next day.

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 in East Kalimantan.

The orangutan release event which also coincides with the 14th anniversary of Kutai Timur Regency involves the collaboration between the BOS Foundation and all stakeholders, including the East Kalimantan Provincial Government, East Kutai and Kutai Kertanegara Regency Governments, East Kalimantan Conservation and Natural Resources Authority, and the people of East Kutai and Kutai Kertanegara. The BOS Foundation would also like to convey their gratitude for the moral, financial and logistical support from private sectors such as BCA Bank, BNI Bank, Salim Ivomas, and First State Investment, as well as individual donors, partner organizations such as BOS Australia and BOS Switzerland and other conservation organizations across the globe who are concerned with orangutan conservation in Indonesia.

The Head of the East Kalimantan Conservation and Natural Resources Authority, Tandya Tjahjana said, “The orangutan is a species protected by national and international law. Unfortunately their population is decreasing due to many factors, including forest clearance. This has cost orangutans their natural habitat and triggered conflict with humans. In return, often wild orangutans are caught to be kept as pets, sold, or even killed because they are considered pests.”

“The effort to conserve orangutans in their natural habitat is not easy. Cooperation and support are needed from the government, the business sector, and the communities. Orangutan release event from the Samboja Lestari Orangutan Reintroduction Program to the Kehje Sewen forest is one of the efforts taking place in order to maintain orangutan populations in the wild. It is in accordance with the government’s plan to release all the displaced orangutans to their habitat by 2015,” he added.

Successful orangutan reintroduction programs need to continue in order to return displaced orangutans back to natural habitat and achieve the target stated in 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.

Tandya Tjahjana further said, “The cooperation between the East Kalimantan Conservation and Natural Resources Authority with the BOS Foundation has been established since 1991. As the result, 18 Eastern Kalimantan orangutans have been release since April 2012 and another 221 orangutans are still undergoing rehabilitation program.”

Dr. Ir. Jamartin Sihite, the CEO of the BOS Foundation stated, “The private sector, especially those who gain profit from the natural resources and have caused the displacement of orangutans from their natural habitat, should play a more active role in terms of living up to their responsibilities. Most companies in Indonesia have taken for granted the practice of sustainable natural resources management and Best Management Practices, and shifted this responsibility to other parties. Logically, a negative impact from a business practice should be the responsibility of the business practicioners. This must change and the change must be encouraged and monitored by the government through strict regulations.”

drh. Agus Irwanto, Acting Manager of the BOS Foundation Samboja Lestari Program also stated, “Currently, the BOS Foundation is taking care of 200 orangutans in Samboja Lestari. With this release of 9 orangutans to their natural habitat, we are optimistic that more releases will take place in the future. Undeniably this release is only possible with the support from many parties. Our main challenge at the moment is the lack of available suitable and safe forest which can serve as orangutan release locations. In the near future the Kehje Sewen will reach it’s maximum carrying capacity. Therefore, to achieve the target stated in the national Action Plan, we need the full support of the government and their apparatus to protect orangutan habitat.”

Orangutan conservation efforts will be futile without any consolidated action to conserve the forest. Undoubtedly, the biggest challenge is to find suitable forests which serve as orangutan habitat. Dedicated to the World Habitat Day 2013, the release of 9 orangutans is an appeal to all the stakeholders to make forest conservation a reality, for the future of both orangutans and our sustainable welfare.

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Media Contact:

Nurwidiyana Markhumawati
Samboja Lestari Database Officer
Email: diyan_rplcrew@yahoo.co.id

Paulina L. Ela
Communications Specialist
Email: pauline@orangutan.or.id

The 100th Orangutan! [Part 2]

She was so beautiful and so clean. She didn’t want to be dirty. She preferred to play inside, on porcelain floor, instead of rolling on the ground outside with her friends. Little Miss Clean.” – Wiwik Astutik, Samboja Lestari Coordinator of Animal Welfare and Forest School 3.

That was a long time ago, back in 2002, but Wiwik remembers it like it was yesterday. Wiwik just started working for the BOS Foundation when this little female orangutan arrived at Samboja Lestari. Her beauty was striking with her dark brown hair framing her face perfectly. But having been kept as a pet for over 3 years since she was only 6 months old (her previous owner bought her in a black market) had clearly affected her behavior. She was tame and shy and unusually clean.

She hated the outdoors and preferred to stay inside the nursery where the floor was always clean. Whenever she got some dirt or dust on her hair, she freaked out flicking the dirt or dust off her hair right away like a supermodel. This behavior had earned her the nickname the “Little Miss Clean” and consequently, she didn’t have many friends as her peers, of course, much preferred to play outside and get all dirty.

orangutan ke-100_3

Teaching her to be wild again was definitely a huge challenge. The Little Miss Clean must join Forest School where she was encouraged to climb trees, make nests, find and eat forest food, stay outside, and yes, get all dirty. She had to learn to be a true orangutan otherwise she would never have a chance of freedom.

“She never really liked human males,” Syahrul, a Technician at Samboja Lestari and also one of her very first teachers at Forest School, recalls. “So she was closer to Wiwik than to me. But I persisted and patiently encouraged her to learn everything she needed to know about life in the forest. And over time, she thrived and even became one of the best students at our Forest School!”

That was a long time ago. With a lot of love, support and encouragement from Wiwik, Syahrul and the entire Samboja Lestari team, she displayed outstanding development. She loved swinging in the trees with her friends. She enjoyed foraging for wild food and even showed a natural talent for finding and choosing the most delicious ones. She also became very skillful at building nests.

Now at the age of 15 years old, she is more beautiful than ever but she is no longer the little Miss Clean. And freedom… is waiting around the corner.

She will be the 100th ORANGUTAN to return to the forest!

Who is she?

Keep watching this space (and our Facebook pages and Twitters) to find out the answer soon!

SUPPORT THE 100th ORANGUTAN

BY DONATING HERE:

http://orangutan.or.id/donate/