In celebration of International Orangutan Day on the 19th August, the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF) released 25 Orangutans back into the wild of Borneo. Continuing their success of previously releasing 136 Orangutans into central Kalimantan over the past three years, BOSF were delighted to be able to celebrate 2015’s International Orangutan Day by releasing another 20 Orangutans from the Nyaru Menteng Rescue Centre.
Alongside the 20 Orangutans released from Nyaru Menteng, there were also five Orangutans released from the Samboja Lestari Rescue Centre! Ajeng, Long, Arief, Erica and Leoni were all released into the Kehje Sewen Forest in East Kalimantan on the 4th of September.
We were lucky enough to have our very own Kate, the Volunteer Coordinator, out at the centre when the release took place and she was very excited to have the chance to see the Orangutans head into the wild!
Each of the five Orangutans who were released have a fascinating story and it’s just too much to discuss now, so their stories can be found here! Without the dedicated help and support provided by the rescue centre, it is an unfortunate truth that these Orangutans may not have survived out in the wild. Fortunately, at the centre, there are methods and techniques in place to help the Orangutans with their eventual rehabilitation into the wild. A three-tiered Forest School and nursery are in place at Samboja Lestari to provide the rescued Orangutans with the best possible chance to be rehabilitated back into the forest. Detailed below is what happens at the nursery & school:
Nursery: At nursery the young Orangutans are joined by their female only babysitters (they are still scared of men at this age!) To stimulate the Orangutans at nursery there are jungle gyms for them to climb and discover, but their babysitters are never too far away so that the babies always feel safe! The youngsters are surrounded by trees during their time at the nursery, and by the end of their stay their natural instincts have normally led to them exploring these rather than the jungle gyms. We’ve all heard about Josh, the orphaned baby , and this is where he currently resides, learning all the skills he needs to one day be released himself!
Stage 1: For the first stage of forest school when the Orangutans are very young, they are let out to explore the forest in the daytime, learning how to climb and re-learn the natural behaviours they may have missed out on earlier in life. As they are still young, their human babysitters accompany them through this, but they take a hands-off approach unless the Orangutans wander too far! When night rolls around and it’s time for bed, the Orangutans return to their cages for the night to protect them from the outside world which they are currently unaccustomed to.
Stage 2: As the Orangutans grow and become more and more familiar with their natural surroundings, they are granted more freedom. They are given the chance to explore the forest as they wish during the day, and come night time their cages are left open. This means that if they want to return to them they can, but hopefully they are beginning to build nests by now so they can stay in them! Male carers are still around at all times during stage 2 because whilst the Orangutans still need to be looked after, they have normally stopped listening to the female carers by now!
Stage 3: Once the Orangutans reach stage 3 they are becoming more and more independent. They do not sleep in cages anymore and are completely free to roam the forest at their leisure. They are still tracked so that the staff at the centre can ensure they are safe and sound, but apart from this their rehabilitation is almost complete!
Forest School has proven to be a very effective way of helping the rehabilitation process of the Orangutans. It gives them the best possible chance to learn and reinforce the natural behaviours they would have picked up if they were living in the wild. There are a number of baby Orangutans ready to graduate from nursery and go into forest school for the first time, so make sure you keep an eye out for that update!
The day of the release itself proved to be challenging as the release site is in a remote location, unreachable by car or truck. This meant that after four hours of driving, the dedicated staff from BOSF had to carry the Oranugtans the remaining distance in cages created for this purpose. Fortunately, after some tough trekking through the jungle the Orangutans reached their release site and could begin their new lives, living as nature intended! Pictures say a thousand words so I'll let them do the talking!
The release team from BOSF
Long and Arief getting ready for their journey
The staff helping to carry one of the Orangutans to the release site
Someone looks very happy to be released back into the forest
It didn't take Erica long to head straight up a tree
The aim of the Samboja Lestari Rescue Centre is not only to save Orangutans from the hardships many of them face early in their lives, but to then rehabilitate them so they are strong enough to be released back into the wild. When this opportunity comes around it is a momentous day for not only the staff at the centre, but the world of animal conservation as a whole. Releasing five Orangutans back into the wild means that we are one step closer to helping these magnificent Great Apes regain the foothold they once had in the wild.
If you would like the chance to aide in the rehabilitation of the Orangutans and play a part in the eventual release of hopefully many more, then why not pay a visit to Samboja Lestari and create a lasting legacy for the Great Apes. All the details can be found here.
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