Like a never-ending story, our rescue team from Nyaru Menteng have again rescued another baby orangutan that was being kept as a pet illegally by a local villager, this time in South Barito, Central Kalimantan.
Jelapat, a baby male our team rescued, was being held captive in a small 50×50 cm cage
We initially received information about this male infant through a member from our communications team, who had seen a Facebook account sharing a photo of a captive orangutan. We reported this finding to the Central Kalimantan BKSDA the following day (June 21) and immediately deployed a joint rescue team that headed to the reported location.
The baby male was dressed up like a human, in children’s clothing
A local resident named Sukri, who had possession of the orangutan and had named him Jelapat, said he was found in mid-December last year in a gold mining area of Timpah village, Kapuas Regency, Central Kalimantan. Forest fires had devastated the area around that time, destroying all the trees and blanketing the region in a thick haze. Jelapat was found along the banks of the Barito River, alone and weak. Sadly, his mother undoubtedly perished in the fires or was killed intentionally, for no orangutan mother would just leave their infant alone like that.
Sukri took Jelapat home to care for and keep as a pet, and placed him in a small cage on the roadside of his densely populated village. This must have been a terrifying experience for the young male. He was given leftover rice and side dishes to eat.
After a brief explanation of disease transmission between humans and wild animals, and Indonesian law regarding protected species, Sukri willingly handed over Jelapat to our team. Report documents were completed by the Central Kalimantan BKSDA, after which Jelapat was taken to the Nyaru Menteng rehabilitation centre.
drh. Agus Fahroni performing an initial examination on Jelapat
During the rescue, our team found Jelapat to be friendly and had no fear of humans; this indicates he had been held captive for quite some time. An initial examination determined his age at about 1.5 years. Upon arrival at Nyaru Menteng, Jelapat was placed in quarantine – together with Mema and Bumi, who also recently came to the Nyaru Menteng rehabilitation centre – to undergo a thorough medical examination.
Jelapat is the fifth baby orangutan rescued by our team this month: It is very sad to see motherless babies still coming to our centres. Jelapat, like the other infants in our care, will have to undergo a lengthy rehabilitation process at Nyaru Menteng to learn the survival skills he would have gained naturally from his mother in the wild.
Our Baby House is now running over capacity and we desperately need help from around the globe to build a new structure so our baby orangutans can play and learn together.
Our PRM team from Nles Mamse Camp recently reported that Gadis, Hope, Raymond, Kenji, and Angely – who were released from Samboja Lestari to the Kehje Sewen Forest on May 28 – have been adapting well to their new habitat. All five orangutans have been observed actively moving through the trees and foraging well.
Angely, Hope, Kenji and Raymond have been frequently seen exploring alone, while Gadis has been spending time with orangutans that were previously released in the forest, namely Long and Arief.
Gadis Makes Friends with Arief and Long
On her first day of release, Gadis quickly moved away from her release point and out of range of our PRM team. However, over the past few weeks our team have caught up with Gadis and observed her interacting closely with Long and her adopted son Arief, who were released in September 2015. Gadis seemed comfortable alongside Long and Arief, and was seen to be spending her time exploring, foraging and dangling from the trees with them. The three were also spotted together near the river.
Gadis, Arief, and Long
Arief, who hasn’t left Long’s side since they met in Forest School Level 1, seemed somewhat jealous of Gadis and the two appeared to fight several times. Wise, mother figure Long was there to split them up and calm them down.
Gadis and Long interacting together near the river
Angely and Kenji Prefer to be Alone
In contrast to Gadis, who easily befriends other orangutans, Angely and Kenji prefer to spend time alone. On different occasions, our team saw Ajeng – who was released in September 2015 – approach Angely and Kenji, who both went out of their way to avoid her.
Angely appeared to resent Ajeng’s presence and moved away from her to explore other areas of the forest, while Kenji expressed his dislike by throwing twigs at her. Ajeng did not seem to understand the gesture and came closer instead. Kenji then lashed out at Ajeng, who then got the message loud and clear, and left him alone.
Our PRM team have noted that both Angely and Kenji are skilful foragers in the Kehje Sewen Forest and enjoy all the natural food on offer, such as Baccaurea, Artocarpus fruits, liana flowers, termites, bamboo and various other types of flora.
Angely eating Baccaurea sp.
Kenji eating Artocapus
Hope Approaches Ajeng
A day after her release, Hope was observed spending the majority of his time resting in a nest and would only move to find food. However, he has since started becoming more active up in the trees foraging for forest fruits and playing with newfound friend Ajeng.
The PRM team witnessed an encounter between Hope and Ajeng a week after Hope was released; initially he seemed frightened of Ajeng, as she approached in a rather forward manner. Since that first meeting, Hope and Ajeng have become very close – they now eat, explore, play and build nests in trees nearby one another.
Hope (left) and Ajeng (right)
Raymond Savours Jabon and Ferns
After release, Raymond was seen to be spending most of his time exploring and foraging. Once, he bumped into Hanung, a male released in December 2015. When they met, they exchanged sharp looks and their hair stood up on end. A fight soon took place.
Larger Hanung won the physical contest hands-down and Raymond fled to Puncak Palem area, about 500 meters from Hanung’s territory. From that point on, Raymond backed away from Hanung whenever he saw him.
From the team’s observations, it is clear that Raymond is having a love affair with jabon fruits and ferns, enjoying both in abundance!
Raymond eating pakis fern
We are thrilled to see the released orangutans adapting well to their new environment and thriving in the Kehje Sewen Forest. We hope every orangutan undergoing rehabilitation – be it at Samboja Lestari or Nyaru Menteng – will follow in their released friends’ footsteps, and return to this beautiful natural habitat.
After several days of being out of radio tracking range, our Camp Lesik PRM team in Kehje Sewen Forest located Yayang and her baby, Louise, close to the camp one afternoon after finishing a patrol round. The team began to collect ‘found-to-nest’ data, which involves observing a located orangutan up to the point when he/she builds their night nest. That evening, Yayang built her nest only 250 metres from Camp Lesik.
The following day, Yayang and Louise spent most of their time up in the trees where Yayang busily consumed liana fruits. Around noon, the two moved toward the Telen River.
Yayang eating liana fruit
A short time afterwards, the team spotted movements across the river, which turned out to be Hamzah, Casey and Sayang moving through the trees. Long separated from her mother (Yayang), Sayang seemed eager to meet up with her and her baby sister. Yayang kept going about her business while keeping a keen eye on the approaching Sayang.
Yayang and Louise up in the trees
At first, a strong current seemed to deter Sayang from crossing the river. However, she cleverly hung on to tree branches as she stepped across the large river rocks and gave it a go.
Sayang busily eating Lithocarpus sp. before attempting to cross the Telen River
Sayang slowly made her way across the river and then quickly went up to meet Yayang and Louise. All three appeared happy to be in each other’s company. Sayang seemed to be very fond of Louise and played with her little sister, repeatedly nuzzling her face and gently touching her hands.
Sayang playing with Louise
The sky was clear that day, and the good weather gave Yayang and Sayang the chance to roam the forest together for the remaining daylight hours. They ended the day building their nests close to each other. The trio stayed together for the next few days and Sayang was observed sharing her food with Louise on a number of occasions.
As our team witness regularly, the bond between an orangutan mother and her child is strong and even in later life, especially among the mothers, daughters, sisters and aunts, they often meet up and spend time in each other’s company. It is great to see Sayang return to spend time with her mother and sister like a wild female orangutan would.
Two more baby orangutans have recently come into the BOS Foundation’s care. A little boy aged between 1-2 years was brought to the BOS Foundation’s Samboja Lestari Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre on June 15, after being confiscated from a local resident in Samboja village. Just a few days later our team at Nyaru Menteng took in another baby boy on June 18, after he was rescued from Tumbang Koling village in East Kotawaringin, Central Kalimantan, by the Central Kalimantan BKSDA and Centre for Orangutan Protection. (Read the full story here: Two More Baby Orangutans Arrive!).
The baby which arrived at Nyaru Menteng, we named Bumi (meaning ‘Earth’ in Indonesian). He was in very poor condition, weak and shivering. Our senior vet on duty, Agus Fahroni, immediately covered him with a thick, warm blanket and gave him milk.
Bumi warming up in the Dr. Agus Fahroni’s arms
The rescue team initially estimated Bumi’s age at around two months. However, after a more thorough examination we discovered he had a fresh wound on his belly button from his umbilical cord indicating he was actually a newborn less than two weeks old.
Bumi’s bellybutton, still raw from birth
Dr. Agus prescribed a course antibiotics to help dry up the wound and to avoid infection, but poor Bumi was so incredibly weak that he could not even open his eyelids and focus on an object. We believe he was likely violently separated from his mother very shortly after his birth.
On the first few nights at our centre, Bumi was understandably restless and cried. Our babysitters held him continuously and also held a small cuddly toy close to him for additional comfort, which seemed to help him sleep better. Now he only cries when he wants his bottle.
In the wild, baby orangutans stay with their mothers until they are between 6 – 8 years old. At his very fragile age, Bumi has sadly suffered the cruel fate of having his mother taken away from him.
Bumi is currently under 24/7 observation and care, and is receiving intensive treatment from our dedicated medical team and babysitters. He currently weighs just 1.7 kilograms, and is being regularly fed formula milk and given antibiotics to help heal his neonatal wound. Knowing that Bumi was traumatically taken from his mother leaves us greatly saddened. We know we can’t replace his mother, but we can do everything possible to nurture him back to health and help him grow into a confident, healthy young orangutan.
The BOS Foundation’s centres are full to capacity, yet we continue to receive orphaned baby orangutans.
A male aged between 1-2 years was confiscated from a local resident of Samboja village on June 15 and brought to Samboja Lestari. He appeared to be in good condition.
Early this morning, our Nyaru Menteng centre received a male infant estimated to be about two months old. He was rescued from Tumbang Koling village in East Kotawaringin, Central Kalimantan, by a joint team from the Central Kalimantan BKSDA and COP.
He arrived in a very weak condition and the Nyaru Menteng medical team quickly comforted the scared little tot with milk and a warm blanket. He has since found comfortable in the loving arms of our senior vet on duty, Agus Fahroni.
The BOS Foundation will provide the best care possible and see these two darlings through the rehabilitation process, so someday they can return to the wild.
The widespread fires across Kalimantan and Sumatra are devastating forests and peatlands and have resulted in not only human casualties, but also wildlife. As the fires continue to spread, wildlife is displaced from natural habitat and many species, including orangutans and sun bears, are forced out of their natural range and into closer proximity to human settlements or villages.
Since early September the BOS Foundation Nyaru Menteng orangutan rescue team together with the Central Kalimantan BKSDA have rescued 8 orangutans forced to leave their forest homes throughout Central Kalimantan.
Rescue missions commenced with 1 baby boy and girl below the age of 1, who were confiscated from local people. The babies were confiscated at different times and those holding them both claimed to have “found them stranded alone without the mother near an area which was on fire”. Orangutan mothers are extremely protective of their offspring and would never abandon their infants and in turn the infants cling onto their mothers for dear life. We assume that these mothers were very tragically killed and their babies taken from them. (read more on Napri’s confiscation story: Emergency Recues from Devastating Fires)
During the confiscation process, we found these boys to be extremely weak, and the thick haze in the Orangutan Rehabilitation Center of Nyaru Menteng where they are currently placed under treatment, has made their recovery not as speedy as we hope. Even so, both have now gained weight almost twice the weight the day we confiscated them.
It is not only baby orangutans which are arriving at our centers. The BOS Foundation team at Nyaru Menteng and BKSDA have also rescued several older orangutans from burning areas. In Sampit, East Kotawaringin Regency, we saved an 11-year old adult female who had been trapped by fire in a small area of farm-forest close to a persons house. Luckily, despite being very frightened, she was healthy and was able to be translocated directly to the Lamandau River Wildlife Sanctuary. We will only translocate wild orangutans if they are independent individuals (independent from their mothers) and are physically healthy.
From the Pulang Pisau Regency, our team has received numerous reports of displaced orangutans fleeing from burnt areas of forest. The BOS Foundation Nyaru Menteng orangutan rescue team and BKSDA have rescued a further 4 orangutans from this region, 2 males and 2 females.
Rescue missions in this regency were challenging as we had to track the individuals very close to areas which were still on fire. Searching in the heavy smoke is tough. You can hardly breathe or see. Things become even more challenging when you are faced with an attack from a panicked mother sun bear.
Out of the four rescues in Pulang Pisau, there was one individual, a 4-year old who does not seem to possess any wild behavior. We believe she may have escaped or been released from illegal captivity in someones house or garden. This female will progress through the rehabilitation process before she can be released back to the forest. The three others have clearly grown up in the wild and we will move them to safe habitat as soon as possible.
In Buntok, the joint BOS Foundation-BKSDA team rescued a 25-year old female in a severe physical condition. She is now under close observation and treatment at our medical clinic at the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Rehabilitation Center.
We have responded to many reports to try to save as many orangutans as possible who have been forced to leave their devastated forest homes. Sadly we know that it is very likely that many orangutans and sun bears failed to survive. All we can do is keep working and keep trying our best to give a new home and hope to those we can rescue.
Many remember the extremely disturbing story of a female orangutan under our care called Pony, who was rescued from a brothel 14 years ago. We continue to receive regular inquires about Pony, who is still being cared for within our rehabilitation centre at Nyaru Menteng, in Central Kalimantan.
Pony was brought to Nyaru Menteng in a terrible condition on February 13, 2003. Her hair had been completely shaved off and she was covered in mosquito bites. She received immediate intensive treatment from our dedicated medical team, and over time started to socialize with other orangutans. Pony was placed in our Forest School, where she began to learn forest survival skills under the guidance and loving care of our babysitters.
Pony Returned fromTwo Different Pre-Release Islands
After spending two years in Forest School, Pony was deemed to have acquired sufficient skills to be moved to the final stage of rehabilitation on a pre-release island. However, on Bangamat Island, technicians reported they observed her spending most of her time on the ground: She appeared disinterested in foraging, preferring instead to wait for fruit to be distributed at the feeding platform. At that time, Pony seemed to be lacking social skills and competitiveness. Her range was also limited, even though she was once seen crossing the waterway separating the pre-release islands during the dry season.
Pony on Bangamat Island, waits for food to be distributed at the feeding platform
In July 2010, Pony was moved back to the socialization complex at Nyaru Menteng after failing to thrive. Our technicians paid close attention to Pony’s needs and behaviour, and she was occasionally taken back to Forest School where she could relearn some of the basic survival skills she seemed to be lacking. Over time, Pony appeared to build up a sound skillset, which led us to believe she was ready to have another go at the pre-release stage. On June 29, 2013, Pony was transferred to the pre-release island of Kaja. At the time of her release, she weighed 60 kilograms.
Pony was transferred to Kaja Island on June 29, 2013
Much to our relief, on Kaja Island Pony demonstrated improved natural abilities and wild behaviours: she was more agile; good at foraging; spent a lot of time up in trees; explored deep into the forest; made sturdy nests; and socialized with other orangutans! She seemed to be learning from other orangutans through her interactions with them, which differed vastly to her previous experience on Bangamat Island.
Unfortunately, Pony’s enthusiasm lasted only three months, and in September our technicians found her in a weak and lethargic state. Upon examination, our medical team found that Pony had several wounds, her hair was surprisingly dry, she showed symptoms of chronic malnutrition and she had lost 16 kilograms.
Pony’s condition deteriorated and she suffered from various illnesses and injuries – she even had torn muscles on her fingers and toes, and had to undergo regular physiotherapy.
After a month of intensive treatment, and another year under close medical supervision, Pony’s condition improved. In August 2014, she was placed back in a Socialization Complex, which is where she is still located today. This gorgeous female is now 21 years old and in a very good health. She has a good appetite and engages with the skill-enhancing enrichment tools provided by our team members.
Pony in the Nyaru Menteng 2 Socialization Complex
We hope Pony can one day be successfully introduced to a pre-release sanctuary island with other unreleasable orangutans like her, but we are also realistic in the knowledge that her sad history in human captivity has ultimately damaged her in ways that she will always need our support.
The BOS Foundation’s Orangutan Reintroduction Center at Nyaru Menteng recently received another orphaned orangutan, this time from Madara village in South Barito regency.
Yutris, is a 7 month-old baby male orangutan weighing 3 kilograms. He was apparently found without his mother by bird hunters and taken care of by a local resident of Madara before being taken to Buntok, South Barito regency. As soon as he arrived in Buntok, Yutris was handed to Mr. Heto, a BKSDA (Wildlife Conservation Agency) officer posted in Buntok and then finally on to Nyaru Menteng on 6th May 2015.
Mr. Hento, a BKSDA officer
Little Yutris arrived at Nyaru Menteng around 7 pm and was given an initial health examination before entering into baby quarantine. Vet Suli Partono conducted the initial health checks on Yutris and confirmed that the baby orangutan was in good condition. During quarantine, Yutris will be taken care of by a babysitter Lisawati in nursery where he can play in the baby playground. As soon as he successfully finishes quarantine, he will join our other baby orangutans. For now, Yutris seems happy playing in the baby playground with his friend Blegi who are also in quarantine time.
We hope that Yutris’s test results reveal that he is completely healthy so that he can join his peers as soon as possible and begin to sharpen his natural skills and rebuild his life with the help of our team.
Almost all orangutan babies who arrive with us are orphaned. Many of these infants are all too often traumatized as they were brutally separated from their mothers during their illegal capture. These orphaned orangutan babies then need go through a long rehabilitation process and be taken care of and nurtured by surrogate mothers; our dedicated babysitters. Arief is one of these young orangutans who lost his mother and is now being cared for in our orangutan center at Samboja Lestari. Whilst in Forest School, Arief met Long a 10-year old female orangutan who loves him like her son. This is a must-read emotional story from Samboja Lestari.
An Emotional Meet-Up
Within our Forest School Level 2 in Samboja Lestari, it is normal to see young orangutans playing or busy working on their other activities like foraging and nest building up in the trees. There are 32 orangutans here aged 5-8 years old. Each morning when these young orangutans wake up, they are brought out of their night-time enclosure and given a light breakfast. This starts them off for the day, but does not fill them up completely so that they are encouraged to forage for food in the forest, like a wild orangutan would. After a busy day our team provides additional fruits and other food supplements to make sure they receive a sufficient diet.
But there is this one special and emotional sight we have witnessed in Forest School Level 2: A 10-year old female orangutan carrying and busily tending to a 4-year old orangutan. This is an unusual occurrence because there are no mother and infant units roaming around free in Samboja Lestari. But these two orangutans are not mother and son. They are a female orangutan called Long from Forest School Level 2, and little Arief from Forest School Level 1.
The story of Long and Arief started when they first met in Forest School Level 1. Long played far enough from her own Forest School that she reached the younger school, Level 1 where Arief was and that was how the two met. Somehow, Long’s maternal instincts kicked in and she picked up and carried Arief in her arms. As a young orangutan who still desperately needed a mother, Arief willingly accepted Long’s invitation. Since then, they have been inseparable.
A good Mother and Teacher
Long has always been an independent orangutan. She rarely returns to her enclosure at night and instead prefers to build night nests in the trees. As such she is an excellent mother and teacher for Arief.
After living with Long for many months, Arief is now skillful in building his own nest, a skill that not even all Level 2 Forest School orangutans have developed. Since he started living with Long, Arief never comes back to his own night-time enclosure, but he shows up every once in a while and eats the fruits given by the technicians so our team can continually observe his condition.
Long only trusts Technician Angga. Angga is the only technician accepted by Long and Arief. Everytime they see Angga, Arief will come and see him and Long is accepting. But if it happens to be one of our other technicians, Long will instinctively protect Arief and even go as far as trying to bite them.
A Unique Relationship
Long and Arief’s story is unique. Normally a wild female orangutan would start to reproduce somewhere between the age of 13-15 years old. In the rehabilitation center, they reach maturity at an earlier age, but Long is no more than 10 years old and she voluntarily takes care of Arief, who is clearly a burden (literally) and has taken on complete responsibility for him.
This is an amazing and heartwarming story for us and hopefully this will be the start of a wonderful journey for Long and Arief. With Long’s independence, we hope to soon promote her Forest School Level 3, which is the last step before release. Will Arief continue to live with Long? We don’t know, but we will follow their unique relationship closely and see where it will take them.
On Saturday, 6 October 2012, East Kalimantan Conservation and Natural Resources Authority (BKSDA) contacted the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF) to check the health of three recently rescued orangutans: a male of around 1-2 years old, a female of 3-4 years old, and another
female of 4-5 years old.
The young male orangutan had been kept as a pet for a year by a local community member after he found this small individual on a road near to an oil palm plantation, whilst the 3-2 year-old female orangutan, who was also kept as a pet for three years, was found in a private plantation in Sangatta. Finally, a local community in Samarinda handed over the 4-5 year-old female orangutan to the Mulawarman University however her background story is not really known.
Female Orangutan 3-4 old.
These stories are the same for so many of our other orangutans who are all victims of deforestation for human development purposes. They are left with no natural habitat hence no home. When areas are cleared of forest, orangutans are often found wandering through plantations desperately looking for food and are regarded as a threat or simply pests. The adults are often killed and infants caught and kept as pets. Often these poor infants are kept in terrible conditions either chained up or kept in tiny filthy cages. Many of them don’t survive.
The BOS Foundation has rescued thousands of orangutans from areas of conflict. Our two Orangutan Reintroduction Centres; Samboja Lestari in East Kalimantan and Nyaru Menteng in Central Kalimantan currently care for a total of 850 orangutans. We provide welfare, healthcare and rehabilitation to enable them to be returned to safe secure natural habitat. The rehabiliation process can take more than 7 years as when a young orangutan is taken away from its mother, it loses a whole lifetime of early learing in how to survive in the forest, which it normally gets from its mother for the first 6-8 years of its life. Our dedicated carers provide those skills to our orangutans so that they can one day be returned to their natural home.
Female Orangutan 4-5 yo.
Although our resources are stretched to the maximum, once again the BOS Foundation has helped rescue these orphaned orangutans. This year, we have released 6 orangutans from our rehabilitation center in East Kalimantan. However, within the same year we have taken 7 orangutans into our center, including these three newcomers. This means we are back where we started in terms of the number of orangutans in our East Kalimantan rehabilitation center and in terms of meeting the goals set by the Government of Indonesia of releasing all of our rehabilitated orangutans by 2015. In fact, we now have 1 individual more than we initially had in the beginning of the year! A little space that we managed to free by releasing orangutans have again been filled to maximum capacity.
Therefore, on behalf of our reintroduction program at Samboja Lestari in East Kalimantan and BKSDA, we call on all of our friends to support and donate to us to help us look after these orangutans. We ask companies who either directly or indirectly cause deforestation to take the responsibility for the orangutans welfare. If everyone supports, we can share the burden of responsibilty and work to make sure all our able bodied orangutans can once again be returned to the wild where they belong.