Successfully releasing orangutans is a lot more complicated than simply opening cage doors and setting orangutans free in the forest. Preparing orangutans prior to their release can take more than seven years and once they have finally been released, our Post-Release Monitoring (PRM) team take over. Their primary task is to follow, observe, and collect data daily on the released orangutans for a full month post-release. Our PRM team tracks individual orangutans from the time they wake up and leave their nest in the morning until they build a new night nest. These dawn ‘till dusk follows are known as a nest-to-nest observations. The behavioural data collected is then used to assess and evaluate the individual orangutans adaptation to natural forest and also to evaluate our rehabilitation process within our care centres.
All of our PRM teams, in the three forests in which we work, leave camp before dawn to ensure that they are at the night nest before the orangutan wakes up and starts his or her daily activities. Once the orangutan is awake, the team begins to record data on what the orangutans eats and does, where it travels and where it sleeps. They have to work hard to keep up with orangutans as they travel swiftly through the trees, while dealing with often challenging terrain on the ground. Sometimes it is not possible to complete nest-to-nest observations over an entire 30-day period, especially when orangutans disappear into the forest leaving no trace of their whereabouts.
The PRM team heads out on patrol
To continue 30-days of observations, even on the individuals that disappear, our team conducts patrols along transects that the orangutans are most likely to visit. Recently, our PRM team in Nles Mamse Camp, Kehje Sewen Forest has managed to find and observe several individuals that were released in December. Which orangutans did our team catch up with, and how are they doing in the forest? Find out more in our next story!
Text by: PRM team in Nles Mamse Camp, Kehje Sewen Forest