Romeo's Release! The Big Male Orangutan Settles Into His New Home!

Romeo's Release! The Big Male Orangutan Settles Into His New Home!

Posted by Connor Whelan on 7th Jun 2017

We have fantastic news from the Samboja Lestari Orangutan Project as one of its most long serving residents finally got a taste of freedom; Romeo the male orangutan was released onto a pre-release orangutan island on the 5th June!

Romeo arrived at Samboja way back in 1993 when he was repatriated from Taiwan and he has been progressing through the rehabilitation process at the sanctuary ever since. The big male orangutan joined two female apes who were already resident on the island, Fani and Isti, and the hope is that Romeo will adapt to his new home and eventually be suitable for release back into the wild!

Romeo The Bornean Orangutan

Currently there are seven pre-release islands at Samboja, with a further four under construction. Island 5 will be Romeos new home, and his release was made possible thanks to the hard work of The Great Projects volunteers! Over the last couple of months volunteers have been hard at work helping to construct and paint the platforms that Romeo, Fani and Isti will use for climbing and sleeping. These platforms are crucial as they give the orangutans a chance to perfect their climbing skills and practise the natural behaviours they will have to exhibit in the wild.

Volunteers Working in Borneo

Take a look at the volunteer achievements at Samboja this year.

2017 has been a very busy year for orangutan releases at Samboja Lestari and Jamartin Sihit, BOS Foundation CEO said: “2017 is the year of #OrangutanFreedom, and we have released 13 orangutans to the Kehje Sewen Forest in East Kutai this year alone. After Eid, we will be ready to release more orangutans into the forest. Today, we are setting free one of our orangutans who has been living in Samboja Lestari for years, so he can live in an open environment, after 24 years of living in one of our enclosures.”

He also added: “Our orangutan reintroduction plans were halted for 10-years because there was no forest available to accommodate our ex-rehabilitated orangutans. This led to the accumulation of hundreds of orangutans who share a similar fate to Romeo, waiting for the opportunity of freedom. We have overcome this tremendous challenge, but the forest in East Kalimantan that BOS Foundation now manages – Kehje Sewen - is still unable to accommodate the other 100 orangutans we plan to release. We need support to secure new forest areas.”

Orangutan Island in Borneo

This island is Romeo's new home!

Romeos release onto the orangutan island went without issue, and with the hope being that he adapts well and quickly to his new semi-wild lifestyle he will be closely monitored to evaluate whether or not he will suitable for release into the rainforest at a later date. The team at Samboja are hoping that Romeo displays enough natural behaviour to show that he would be able to survive in the wild, and if this proves to be the case then Romeo will eventually be released back into his natural rainforest home once a section of forest has been found!

We would like to take this chance to say a big thank you to both the staff at the Samboja Lestari Sanctuary and of course our fantastic volunteers who have helped to make Romeo’s release possible! With more hard work such as this we will have a lot more orangutan releases to tell you about in the future so why not become our next orangutan volunteer?


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