We’ve got some exciting news fresh from the rainforests of Borneo: six more orangutans are gearing up to take their final steps towards freedom, thanks to the amazing team at Samboja Lestari! Today’s blog post is dedicated to those candidates who’re about to embark on the ultimate journey…read all about Arnold, Totti, Derek, Seto, Tinatun and Sakura below!
The first candidate preparing for release is 12-year-old Arnold, who has been with the team at Samboja Lestari since infancy. Born in East Kalimantan on the 12th of March 2006, Arnold had an incredibly tough start to life, losing his mother just two months after she gave birth. The Samboja babysitter team were quick to take in young Arnold, providing a fantastic level of care to this orangutan in need.
Arnold joined Forest School in 2009 and worked hard through all stages to graduate. He reached pre-release in 2015, transferring to Island 4 and spending the next couple of years there before moving to Juq Kehje Swen Island in 2017. Arnold’s time in pre-release was well-spent, and he was frequently observed applying the skills he learned in Forest School. Arnold is a fantastic forager and a nimble nest-builder, meaning he is the ideal candidate for life in the wild.
Next up we have Totti: his backstory is similar to Arnold’s, arriving at Samboja in 2006 after his mother, Tukiyem, passed away after a struggle with pneumonia (Arnold’s mum, Amoy, also died after contracting a respiratory infection). Totti spent the first three years of his life in the Nursery Group before moving on to Forest School, completing his time there in 2015. Like Arnold, Totti moved to Island 4 and later Juq Kehje Swen Island in 2017, showing exceptional skills in both foraging and nest-building. Totti has been excellent in socialising with other orangutans but prefers to stay away from humans.
At 12 years old, Totti has waited a long time for his first taste of freedom – we wish him luck in the wild!
Derek’s story is a sad one: he arrived in Samboja Lestari in 2009 after having being held captive for four months by a villager in Handil. He was about one year old.
Derek was placed in quarantine before joining Forest School, completing his time there in 2015 and eventually moving to join Arnold and Totti on Island 4 and Juq Kehje Swen Island. Derek proved himself to be a natural forager, actively exploring the island and progressing day by day. At the age of 10 years old, Derek looks forward to experiencing life on the outside once more!
The first lady in today’s list, Seto is a beautiful orangutan with a tragic past. She was rescued back in 2010 at the age of 9 months old, weighing a mere 4 kilograms (less than one stone).
After a spell in quarantine, Seto joined Forest School and eventually progressed to pre-release on the 22nd of January 2018. She has spent the last few months on Island 8, exercising a passion for exploration and developing her natural skills. Seto is now 8 years old and is ready to walk free in the wilds of Kehje Sewen Forest.
Tinatun was born on the 14th of June 2008, but her time with her mother Titin was to be short-lived – Titin was released in 2013, leaving behind her young daughter who still needed time to learn her own survival skills.
After years of rehabilitation and loving care from the Samboja team, Tinatun joined the other orangutans in pre-release on Island 8 on the 22nd of January 2018. She proved herself to be a very independent young lady, spending her days in the treetops or exploring the island alone. At the age of 10 years old, Tinatun has expressed an excellent ability to cope independently, earning her a place on Samboja’s candidate release list.
Finally, we turn our attention to the gorgeous Sakura, a 10-year-old orangutan who is keen to experience life in the wild after 6 years at Samboja Lestari. Sakura was rescued from a villager in Sangatta in October 2012 at the age of 4 years old, weighing in at a devastatingly meagre 9 kilograms (just over 1 stone).
Her namesake, meaning ‘cherry blossom’, turned out to be most fitting: Sakura has blossomed and bloomed during her time at Samboja, developing strong natural skills such as foraging and nest-building. She is, understandably, rather hostile towards humans – but her independent streak shows strength, and she is sure to cope well in the wilderness of Kehje Sewen Forest.
We wish each of these amazing orangutans the very best with their new lives in the wild, and we hope to hear more about them in the years to come!
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