Over the past few days, the amazing team at the Samboja Lestari Sanctuary in Borneo have been releasing 6 orangutans back into the wild. This is the second release in the past couple of months (see the previous release here), and it’s always wonderful to see the orangutans getting a second chance at life. Check out the candidate profiles just below, and join us in wishing the best of luck to these incredible animals as they begin their new lives in the Kehje Sewen Forest.
Arriving at Samboja Lestari in 2010, Justin was only three years old when he was rescued from a local villager. Despite being in good health, Justin was understandably fearful of humans, but went on to achieve great independence following rehabilitation in Forest School.
Since being at Samboja, Justin has become adept at identifying natural food sources, making sturdy nests, and enjoys spending the night over in Forest School. His survival skills will allow this great ape to adjust well to life in the Kehje Sewen forest, and we can’t wait for Justin to enjoy his freedom!
At just five years old, Ung was rescued from a local villager and brought to the team at Samboja Lestari in 2010. Like Justin, she entered Forest School and developed a strong set of survival skills such as foraging and nest-building. She even moved onto Forest School Level 3 in 2012, and grew to be quite the independent young ape!
Now 12 years old and ready to say goodbye to Samboja after 7 years at the sanctuary, Ung can now embrace her freedom in the Kehje Sewen Forest.
Robert was only two years old when we was confiscated from a villager, who was illegally keeping him as a pet. Arriving at Samboja in 2010, Robert still exhibited some wild behaviour and was both hostile and aggressive towards his babysitters. It was clear that a rough start to life had affected the young ape.
However, it was also apparent that Robert was a smart orangutan: he moved straight from Nursery Group to Forest School Level 2, readily understanding instructions despite being the youngest in his group. By 2014, Robert found himself on Island 4, preferring to spend time alone in the trees and foraging.
Now 9 years old, this dominant male is ready to return to the life that should have always been his, and we’re sure that he’ll adjust to forest life with confidence and ease.
Rescued from a local tourism location in East Kalimantan, Reckie was just a baby when she arrived at Samboja: at only one year old, she is the second youngest candidate in today’s list.
Reckie started her rehabilitation in the Nursery Group, gradually moving through Forest Schools Level 1 through 3. She has grown to be an independent female and, whenever she’s not showing off her awesome foraging and nesting skills, she loves to spend time up in the treetops!
After seven years in rehabilitation, 8-year-old Reckie is now able to return to a life of freedom in the Kehje Sewen Forest. We wish her the best of luck on her new adventures in the wild!
Even younger than Reckie is Tree: at only eight months old, this tiny orangutan was handed over to Samboja Lestari in 2006.
Thanks to the love, care and attention given by her dedicated babysitters, Tree has grown to be the perfect candidate for release. She is somewhat hostile towards humans, spending much of her time alone up in the trees; nevertheless she is a dominant figure amongst her peers, and the other orangutans clearly respect her. Tree is now 11 years old and is prepared to live independently in the wild.
The final candidate on today’s list is Heli: confiscated from a villager by local authorities, Heli’s story is a complicated one wrought with a potential number of issues. The villager claimed to have found her in a plantation after falling from a tree and separated from her mother, who was chased by a dog. Whether this story is true or not, it is evident that the villager was reluctant to hand the orangutan over to the authorities, so it is a miracle that she arrived at Samboja in good health around the age of one year old.
Despite her rough start, Heli has been noted as a particularly warm and intelligent orangutan, using her brilliant social skills to communicate with younger orangutans and teaching them how to do things. She is also good friends with Reckie, and spends much of her time hanging out with her fellow great ape.
At the age of 10 years old, Heli is ready to be released into the forest, and will surely adapt with ease to her deserved life back in the wild.
The release of these orangutans now means that 24 great apes have been released into the Kehje Sewan forest - this is an incredible achievement, and one which is very moving. Below is a segment from the BOS Foundation's own press release, which details the process of the release:
'The six orangutans that will be released today include two males and four females who have all completed a long period of rehabilitation through our Forest School system, and who are considered ready to live independently in the wild. They will be released in the southern part of Kehje Sewen at a location where 24 other rehabilitated orangutans were previously released; all of whom have since dispersed throughout the forest.
The six orangutans will depart from Samboja Lestari and travel directly to Kehje Sewen Forest in East Kutai Regency. Our team will follow strict protocols throughout the 20-hour road trip, stopping every two hours to check on the orangutans and provide them with food and water.'
We’ll be keeping our ear to the ground in the hopes of hearing more news post-release, but in the meantime, why not take a look at this blog about the previous release?
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