Meet The Five Orangutans Being Released Back Into The Wild!

Meet The Five Orangutans Being Released Back Into The Wild!

Posted by Connor Whelan on 3rd Sep 2015

It is always an amazing day for all involved at the Samboja Lestari Rescue Centre when release day comes around! After all of the hard work put in over months and years by the staff and of course the Orangutans themselves, the day that some of the Great Apes can be released is a memorable one for all involved.

Between the 3rd and 6th of September, five Orangutans will be released from Samboja back into their natural home, the Kehje Sewen Forest in East Kalimantan. Here we would like to tell you the incredible stories behind the soon to be released Orangutans!


Ajeng is a very strong-willed female Orangutan who still has a dislike for humans after her tough start to life. Ajeng was confiscated from a local in Samarinda, East Kalimantan and came to Samboja in 2007. Fortunately, even though she was only one year of age when she arrived at the centre, Ajeng was in good physical shape and due to her dislike of a human presence in her life, she had still retained a lot of her natural, wild behaviour.

Throughout her time at the centre, Ajeng became known as a very clever Orangutan and willingly learnt everything her baby sitter taught her. This dominant and very independent female loved learning via exploring and experiencing things for herself, so everyone at the Rescue Centre knows that she will do incredibly well back out in the wild!


Erica is another female who had a horrible start to life. She was rescued and brought to Samboja Lestari at the age of just ten months, after spending the early part of her life with a local person who simply couldn’t care for her adequately. Having been at the Rescue Centre since 2006, Erica has learnt all of the skills needed to flourish back out in the wild.

Arriving in desperate need of care from the staff at Samboja, Erica has grown into a strong, independent young lady who has a certain panache for exploring and learning. We are sure Erica is looking forward to having the natural habitat that was so cruelly taken away from her back.


Leoni was found scared and distressed by a native at a coal mine just outside the local village in Sangatta, East Kalimantan. Fortunately for Leoni, rather than keeping her and attempting to care for her himself, the native handed her over to the staff at The Samboja Lestari Rescue Centre. Leoni may have only been two years of age when she came to the centre in 2006, but she already had a very strong fear of humans due to her early struggles in life.

Luckily Leoni turned out to be a very fast learner! As one of the most intelligent apes at the centre, she was often known to lead her Orangutan friends out into the forest, teaching them which foods are ok to eat and which aren’t! This is all great preparation for her release back into the wild! After regularly showing her contempt for her human careers, everyone at the centre knows that this strong, independent Orangutan is more than ready for her big release day!


Long was discovered as a one year old baby by a local and swiftly handed over to the staff at Samboja Lestari. From then on in things started to look up for Long. She had retained all of her natural behaviours, meaning she did not like human contact at all, which is extremely beneficial in the rehabilitation process! Long was found in the Wehea Dayak Traditional Forest, and this is located very close to the Kehje Sewen Forest which is where the Orangutan release will be taking place. This means that it will be something of a homecoming for Long!

Whilst at Forest School Long developed into a dominant female, albeit one with a superb skillset and motherly touch. During her time at Samboja Lestari Long decided to take responsibility for a young male Orangutan called Arief (who you will be introduced to next!) and she has become his adoptive mother. Everywhere Long goes Arief follows and she has been teaching him all of the skills required to survive out in the wild. When Long is released back to her natural home, Arief will be going with her so she won’t be alone!


Arief may be the youngest of the Orangutans being released but he is in very good hands. After meeting his new adoptive mother at the centre, Arief and Long will set about exploring the forests together.

Arief was rescued from a local house at a very young age and taken into the care of the Samboja Lestari Rescue Centre. This is where the special relationship between Arief and Long began. The story started when Long – then a student of Forest School Level 2 – ranged further than normal when exploring the forest and came across the younger Orangutans playing in Forest School Level 1. She spotted Arief for the first time and her maternal instincts kicked in immediately as Long instantly lifted Arief into her arms. Being an orphan who was desperately in need of motherly love, Arief naturally accepted the attention. The two have been inseparable ever since.

With Long’s guidance, Arief has grown into a powerful young male, and alongside his adoptive mother he will now make his way back to his true home in the Kehje Sewen Forest.

We hope that this has given you more of an insight into the characters of the Orangutans who are being released, and into the incredible amount of work that goes on at Samboja Lestari. It is an unfortunate truth that without the staff at the centre putting in a lot of time and effort, these five Orangutans may not have lived to see this release day. Fortunately, this is not the case and releasing five Orangutans back into the wild is another step towards ensuring these magnificent apes will continue to live long and healthy lives in the wilds of Borneo. We were lucky that our volunteers were able to be involved in this process in some way, and assist the staff in one of the most rewarding parts of their jobs.

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