Since its foundation in 1999, the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Sanctuary has been clear with its aims: to rehabilitate as many orangutans as possible, before releasing them back into their natural homes. The rehabilitation centre is currently home to close to 400 orangutans, each with their own stories and needs, and while some of these great apes may sadly never be released (whether due to illness, disability or habituation), others remain hopeful of their return to the wild.
Nyaru Menteng has released almost 300 orangutans to date (with 10 being released back in August, just after our project launch), and today we’re happy to announce that a further 6 orangutans are currently undergoing their final stages of rehabilitation before finally making their return to the rainforest! Learn about each of the candidates by reading on, and join us in wishing them well on their journey to freedom.
Danida’s story is one with a tragic, yet all-too-familiar beginning: aged just 4 months old, a dehydrated and malnourished Danida was rescued from the clutches of a palm oil plantation worker. At the time of her rescue in September 2006, she weighed only 1.9 kilograms.
After recovering and passing quarantine, Danida joined Forest School and worked her way through each stage. On November the 3rd 2016, she moved to a pre-release island in order to undergo her final stage of rehabilitation. Her time in the Salat Island Cluster saw her grow into an alert, avid explorer who, understandably, did not like human presence.
Now 13 years old and weighing a much-healthier 25.9 kilograms, Danida is set to bid farewell to Nyaru Menteng after more than a decade in the centre’s care. The time has come for her to live freely in the forests of the Bukit Baka Bukit Raya National Park (BBBR) – a heartwarming conclusion to her remarkable story.
Like Danida, Tristan had also been held captive by a member of the public (in this instance, a member of the nearby Petak Bahandang village). Tristan was rescued on the 4th of February 2007, arriving to Nyaru Menteng aged 4 years old and weighing a slight 8 kilograms.
After having undergone a period of quarantine, Tristan joined Forest School, completing all levels. He then moved to the Salat Island Cluster on the 3rd of November 2016, and it was here that he honed all the skills that he had learned during his years in Forest School, growing into an independent orangutan with excellent foraging skills. He also earnt his name as one of the best explorers on the island!
Tristan is now 16 years old, weighing in at 50.45 kilograms. After 12 years in rehabilitation, this keen explorer is ready to embark on his journey to the forests of BBBR National Park, fulfilling his destiny and becoming the wild orangutan he was always meant to be.
Paija was rescued from a local resident of Sampit, East Kotawaringin Regency on the 7th of April 2010, arriving to Nyaru Menteng at the age of 6 years old. Worryingly, she had a painful-looking wound on her forehead.
After passing quarantine, Paijah joined Forest School, completing all stages before advancing to the pre-release stage of rehabilitation. She moved to the Salat Island Cluster on the 5th of April 2017, and it was here that she enjoyed extensive exploration of her temporary island home. Like Tristan, Paijah became known as an excellent forager, and was also notable for her alert nature.
Now aged 15 years old, Paijah’s long road to rehabilitation is due to come to an end as she returns to her natural forest home. We hope that her curious nature and exploration skills serve her well in BBBR National Park!
Mother-and-son duo Buntok and Borneo are the next candidates preparing for release, though their journey has not been an easy one by any means.
Buntok was only 18 months old when she was rescued from the city of Buntok, South Barito Regency. By the time she had arrived to Nyaru Menteng (on the 5th of March 2009), she weighed only 8 kilograms.
After many years spent undergoing rehabilitation in Forest School, Buntok was eventually moved to Salat Island on the 28th of May 2017. It was here that Buntok gave birth to a baby boy – later named Borneo – who was first discovered on the 27th of February 2018. Sadly, baby Borneo had suffered a severe rash as a result of exposure to rengas, a local plant which produces an acidic sap. Similarly, Buntok had also been affected by exposure to the sap, and the pair had to undergo treatment for their condition.
Borneo had recovered from his illness by the 2nd of June 2018, and it was from this point that the pair were sent back to the pre-release island to complete their rehabilitation. Both mother and son displayed excellent progress, and before long they were declared ready for release!
Buntok is now 12 years old, weighing in at a healthy 55.7 kilograms, whilst little Borneo weighs 3 kilograms. Both mother and child are ready to taste true freedom in the forests of the Bukit Baka Bukit Raya National Park, and we wish them luck on their journey!
As the only semi-wild candidate on today’s list, Rosidin’s story is quite different to that of the other orangutans. He was recently rescued (on the 30th of January 2019) from the Salat Island Cluster in Pulang Pisau Regency and is estimated to be around 20 years old. He is a large orangutan with wide cheek pads and a thick beard, and is also sadly blind in his left eye. Displaying completely wild behaviours, Rosidin is easily distressed by human presence and is known to kiss-squeak to voice his displeasure. The Nyaru Menteng team brought him to the centre to provide him with the care that he needed and, after two months in the facility, is ready to enjoy forest life once more. Like the rest of the orangutans in today’s list, he too will be released into the BBBR National Park to live out the rest of his days.
Reading each of these orangutans’ stories can be both upsetting and inspiring – these are incredible animals who, oftentimes, have suffered a great deal of trauma, and without the help of centres such as Nyaru Menteng they may never have had the chance to experience recovery, let alone release. The project’s extraordinary work continues to offer a lifeline to our rainforest cousins, and we wholly support the efforts of the BOSF team who make these releases possible. We can’t wait to hear more about today’s candidates – hopefully we’ll hear more about their journey in the near future, but until then, here’s to the beginnings of 6 more happy lives in Bukit Baka Bukit Raya National Park!
Do you want to help make a difference to orangutan rehabilitation efforts in Borneo? Become a volunteer at the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Sanctuary today!
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