As part of the Post Release Monitoring Team, on my day off, I decided to go for a walk in the forest. I took off down the trail left by cars heading to Simpang Tawon, hoping to see something interesting.
Shortly after setting off, I began to sense somebody following me. I wondered if it was an orangutan. When the foliage finally opened up, I saw Bong, a female we released last December. I took some photos of her to share with the team, which fortunately she didn’t seem to mind, and left her alone.
Passing through the swamp area, I noticed some slight movements in a nearby tree. At first, I thought it was likely a small mammal running along the branches. But after patiently waiting and getting a closer look, I saw that it was another orangutan; Kent, who was first released to the northern Lesik area in 2014. Kent had suffered a serious injury only days after his initial release, and was brought back to Samboja Lestari for medical treatment and further rehabilitation. He was re-released to the Nles Mamse area in October 2016.
My reunion with Kent was very special. He has been extremely difficult to find, much less observe, after his second release. Our PRM team frequently pick up very weak radio tracking signals from Kent, indicating he was far away, but had had no success in locating him. We were all sure that Kent had moved off to explore deeper into the Kehje Sewen Forest. It was pure luck that I bumped into him on my walk!
Seeing Kent’s progress was fantastic. He seems to have grown stronger and wilder. He looks very fit and healthy, and has a huge appetite: his strong, muscular arms help him move quickly and effortlessly through the trees as he devoured all manner of forest food. I was amazed to see how he had changed.
I was so preoccupied with watching Kent, I didn’t realise that the day was slowly fading. As the sky darkened and rain began to drizzle down, I quickly walked back to camp leaving Kent behind. I hope to meet him again someday!
Text by: Valerie, PRM Volunteer at Camp Nles Mamse, Kehje Sewen Forest
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