In the early morning of January 7, 2015 our team from the Nyaru Menteng (NM) Rehabilitation Center and the Conservation of Natural Resources Authority (BKSDA) of Central Kalimantan went to Tumbang Jiga Village after receiving news on the previous day about an orangutan baby kept by villagers. Tumbang Jiga Village is located deep in the remote area of Katingan Regency. This is our first rescue mission this year.
The baby orangutan was found in a very poor condition. She was weak and thin. The owner put her in a lanjung, a Dayak traditional bag made of plaited rattan, usually for carrying crops or firewood. She could barely move inside the bag. She also could not move her right arm because it was swollen.
Meryl Yemima, our veterinarian in Nyaru Menteng quickly lift up the baby, covered her with a warm blanket, and gently carried her. The team managed to confiscate the orangutan and took her to Nyaru Menteng clinic for further treatment. During the return trip, the baby orangutan occasionally let out sobbing sounds inside vet Meryl’s arm. The trip took us around 8 hours.
Initial examination by vet Meryl showed that the baby ages around 8 months, yet she had spent the last 6 months in captivity. She was named Meryl, after our vet who lovingly had taken good care of the baby orangutan from the day she was rescued.
In Nyaru Menteng, little Meryl cannot instantly join the nursery group (a group for baby orangutans). She has to go through a quarantine process to determine her health status. It is our hope that the process goes smoothly and Meryl is given a clean bill of health so she can join her peers in the nursery. Welcome, Meryl!
Text by: Monterado Fridman, Communication Coordinator at BOSF-Nyaru Menteng
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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.
Text by: Vet Fransiska Sulistyo
Photos by Suwardy, Communication BOSF – SL
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Santa is a young female orangutan, not more than two years of age. She was sat all by herself inside a wooden cage, and one can’t help but feel her sadness. Santa was found without her mother and was being temporarily cared for at the Muara Wahau church complex.
No one knows how Santa became separated from her mother. An orangutan mother will naturally protect her child fiercely until her young reaches around seven years of age, or independent enough to survive in the forest. We can only assume that mother and daughter were under a severe threat when separated.
Looking for Santa’s Mother
Upon receiving a report of Santa’s situation from the Indonesian Orangutan Habitat Restoration (RHOI) Team in Muara Wahau, Kutai Timur Regency, our Program Manager at Samboja Lestari dispatched a Rescue and Release Team. Santa was being taken care of by a pastor at the church and the Rescue and Release Team immediately proceeded to attempt to find her mother despite imaging the worst, but hoping for the best.
The team went to the location where Santa was found.
After meeting the pastor to check on Santa’s immediate condition, the team went to the location where Santa was found. They met the Dayak chieftains of the villages where they would start their search of the surrounding area for Santa’s mother and after explaining their mission, acquiring the permits needed then gathering information from local people, the team started the search on January 5, 2014.
The team found the old nest
The team brought Santa to the exact point where she was found in the hope of coaxing her mother to reappear, but sadly to no avail. They searched the nearby forest and gathered more information from the local people, but they hadn’t seen orangutans around their village in quite a long time. The team only found old orangutan nests.
Living in Samboja Lestari
Much to the team’s dismay, the search turned out to be fruitless. It left us with no other option than to take Santa to Samboja Lestari where should could be cared for by our babysitters in the place of her mother. Losing their mother at such a young age is devastating for a young orangutan. Santa has lost the valuable time she needs to learn from her mother so she can become an independent wild orangutan. The babysitters can never be a full replacement of her mother, but they will do their utmost for provide the love and learning Santa needs to build her confidence and skills of how to live in the wild. They will walk her gently through the process of the Baby Nursery, Forest School, until the pre-release stage of her rehabilitation.
A long journey lies ahead of her to finally become a wild orangutan and be able to return to natural habitat, but we will do our best to help her grow into the independent wild orangutan she was meant to be. You can help us do this. Support Santa’s rehabilitation by subscribing to a monthly donation on donation.orangutan.or.id. As always, our huge thanks to you for making a difference to the future of our orangutans.
Text By: Suwardy, Communication Staff Samboja Lestari
Photos By: Suwardy and Aldrin
Often his eyes wander to his three fingers, of which only half of them remain.
A Broken Baby
His expression shows sadness and desperation. Often his eyes wander to his three fingers, of which only half of them remain. He is weak and barely has any strength or the will to move. He is Sura, a beautiful orangutan baby boy.
Having rescued hundreds of orangutans, the Nyaru Menteng Team was having a hard time to find a suitable name for him. Indonesians believe that the right name can inspire greatness from the bearer. And at the BOS Foundation, it is our regulations that each rehabilitation center must find a name that has not been used before for other orangutans (including the deceased) in the center. So we finally turned to our loyal friends and supporters on Twitter for help. From October 22 to 25, we asked them to help #nametheorangutan.
Sura, a beautiful orangutan baby boy.
A Brave Name for a Brave Orangutan
A lot of people enthusiastically took part in the #nametheorangutan contest. And many of the names were so inspiring. But we finally narrowed them down to 10 great names, from which the Nyaru Menteng Team chose the best one for our new orangutan friend. The chosen name is Sura, given by Ade Putri Paramadita, also known as @missHOTRODqueen on Twitter.
The name came from ancient Balinese repertoirs of gamelan (Indonesian traditional musical ensemble). Depicting the royal ruling kingdoms of pre-20th century Balinese society, the word Sura means “bravery”. It is a perfect name for a brave orangutan and we all sincerely hope that Sura will grow into a big, brave orangutan, despite having been physically and psychologically tormented in his past.
The Beginning of Sura’s New Life
On Thursday, October 17 2013, a staff member from the Centre of Orangutan Protection (COP) contacted the Central Kalimantan Orangutan Reintroduction Center in Nyaru Menteng, providing information on a baby male orangutan who was kept by a resident and was about to be handed over. There was also additional information that the orangutan baby was injured. The Nyaru Menteng team immediately coordinated with the Central Kalimantan Conservation and Natural Resources Authority (BKSDA) to rescue the orangutan. Due to technical difficulties, colleagues from COP had to deliver the orangutan baby directly to Nyaru Menteng. Vets Agus Fachroni and Merryl who were on the night shift received and recorded the data of the baby’s origin.
According to information from COP, he was handed over by a resident named Ada in Tumbang Koling village, East Kotawaringin Regency. Ada found the orangutan baby when he was cutting trees for woodblock material in the concession area belonging to PT. Nabatindo Karya Utama (PT. NKU – BGA Group). The area has recently been opened as a new oil palm plantation in the Tumbang Koling area. Ada took care of the orangutan baby for three days before giving him up to COP.
Care and Love in Nyaru Menteng
The Nyaru Menteng Medical Team immediately conducted an initial health check for Sura. He was confirmed to be around 4 months of age based on his dental condition. The team also found a painfully heartbreaking fact: Three fingers on his left hand had been cut off. The wounds were opened and looked as if they were derived from a knife or machete blow. The fingers were swollen and no longer bleeding. Sura was then put into the baby group quarantine, receiving around the clock intensive care from three babysitters.
The wounds were opened and looked as if they were derived from a knife or machete blow.
The next day, he was still too weak to move around. He didn’t show any wild behaviour whatsoever. He is still too small and too weak. He would only hold tight to his babysitters. Often he looked at his cut fingers, as if questioning how this happened. His forest home has been destroyed and he was cruelly and brutally separated from the love of his mother. The remaining stumps of his fingers will remind him of this forever.
We do hope Sura will begin to gain strength. The abundance of love and care from the babysitters might not be able to replace his lost mother, but we will give him so much love and the best care we can. Someday, we will see Sura as an adult male orangutan ready to explore the real forest of Kalimantan, tough and brave, just as his given name.
We will give him so much love and the best care
Last but not least, congratulations and thank you very much to Ade Putri Paramadita for giving such a beautiful name for this beautiful orangutan!
Text by: Monterado Fridman, Communication and Education Coordinator – Nyaru Menteng
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The sun had not arisen yet and the fog was still lingering. But the Orangutan Release Team at Samboja Lestari were already preparing for the release event today. At 5 in the morning, we gathered at the fruit storage area for an early breakfast together. Thereafter the team headed to the release candidates’ enclosures.
The Veterinarians and technicians getting ready for today’s Orangutan Release
Today, three orangutans were going to be released: Emerson, Sarmi and Mona. Six other candidates, Acong, Agus, Noel, Mayang, Inge and Siwie will be released tomorrow. The Samboja Lestari veterinarian team, which consisted of Vets Agus, Agnes, and Putra, prepared the sedation doses. Technician Imam Gozali was appointed to administer the anesthetic darts for the first three orangutans.
Three of our team members – Ahmat (the Helicopter Landing Officer or HLO whom we seconded from the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Reintroduction Program), Monica (Adoption Coordinator and part of our Communications Team) and Vet Anin – were already on the way to Sepinggan Airport in Balikpapan. They flew by helicopter from Balikpapan, transited in Uyang Lahai Airport in Miau Baru Village for a quick refueling, and headed straight to the Kehje Sewen Forest. They arrived safely in the forest at around 10 am.
Last Day in Captivity
Back in Samboja Lestari, it was the last day in captivity for Emerson, Mona and Sarmi. Mona was the first to be sedated at 6 am. She was the first because she is infamous for being quite resistant to anesthetic. It would take sometime until the sedation took effect on her. The first attempt failed because Mona pulled the dart out immediately as it hit her. The second attempt, however, seemed to work.
Waiting for Mona to fall asleep
While waiting for Mona to fall asleep, the technicians started the sedation process for the giant male, Emerson. Like Mona, it took two attempts to successfully sedate Emerson. Meanwhile, Mona still had not fallen asleep, thus the vet decided to give her an extra dose. As soon as she was asleep, she was immediately moved to her travel cage.
Sarmi was the last to be sedated. Despite her kiss-squeaking, protesting the presence of so many humans around her, she was finally sedated at 6.30 am. Meanwhile, it took 15 people to move and transfer Emerson to his transport cage because of his weight and size. Finally, all orangutans were safe inside their travel cages and they were all loaded onto a truck that would take them to Sepinggan Airport in Balikpapan.
It took 15 people to transfer Emerson to his travel cage
Flight to Freedom
It was 7.30 am when the team and orangutans departed to Sepinggan Airport where the Premiair Grand Caravan aircraft was waiting. The orangutans would be accompanied by Vet Agnes and technician Ferdy to the new Uyang Lahai Airport in Miau Baru Village, a village located around 15-20 minutes from Muara Wahau.
We arrived at Sepinggan Airport at 8.30 am. Mechanics from Premiair were conducting the necessary final preparations for the flight. This flight would also carry the logistical supplies for the team at Camp 103 in the Kehje Sewen Forest and also the sling net. This sling net was a vital piece of equipment as these orangutans would be transported by a helicopter from Miau to Camp 103 using the sling load method. A representative of BCA Bank, one of our donors for this orangutan release event, also attended and witnessed the whole process at the airport.
Emerson’s travel cage barely fits into the airplane door
After the airplane was ready, Mona, Sarmi and Emerson were unloaded from the truck and transferred onto the airplane. And not long after, our three orangutan friends took off on their first leg of the journey to freedom. At Sepinggan Airport, there was a mixed feeling of relief, joy and sadness as we bid our goodbyes to beloved Emerson, Sarmi and Mona. It was a beautiful goodbye.
To Borneo’s Fertile Heart
Meanwhile at Uyang Lahai Airport, the Release Team was also on standby since morning. The helicopter that transported Ahmat, Monica and Vet Anin arrived back at Uyang Lahai at around 10.40 am. Twenty minutes later, the Grand Caravan aircraft also landed safely. Emerson, Sarmi and Mona were immediately unloaded.
Airplane carrying Emerson, Sarmi and Mona arriving at Uyang Lahai Airport
The first orangutan to fly to the heart of Borneo’s rainforests was Emerson. He was going solo since the helicopter could only take him alone due to his enormous size and heavy weight. Sarmi and Mona had to wait at Uyang Lahai Airport for the next flight. After Emerson’s travel cage was secured within the sling load, the helicopter took off to the final destination, Kehje Sewen.
Emerson on sling load ready to take off
Emerson was joyfully welcomed by the Release Team in Kehje Sewen 45 minutes later. The helicopter then went back to Uyang Lahai to pick up the two orangutan ladies who patiently waited for their turn.
While waiting for Mona and Sarmi, the team in Kehje Sewen transported Emerson to the pre-designated release site in the Lembu River area, around 3.75 km from Camp 103. To get there, Emerson’s travel cage must be loaded onto a pickup truck and transported across the Lesik River, a large rapid-water river that lies behind our camp. Then the journey continued on foot. The team had to carry Emerson’s travel cage all the way to his release site.
Transporting Emerson across the Lesik River
Arriving at the release site, Emerson’s travel cage was not opened right away. Accompanied by a couple of technicians from Samboja Lestari, he had to wait for Sarmi and Mona. The ladies would be released first, then Emerson last. The rest of the team hurried back to the helipad at Camp 103 to welcome the two females.
Mona and Sarmi finally departed to the forest from Uyang Lahai at around 1.30 PM and arrived in Kehje Sewen at 2.15 PM. Like Emerson, they too were transported by a pickup truck across the river and carried by foot to the same release sites as Emerson’s. Three release points had been prepared and the moments of freedom were finally in sight.
Sarmi and Mona arriving in Kehje Sewen
Home Sweet Home
Mona was the first to be released. Technician Yadi from Samboja Lestari opened her travel cage and instead of immediately climbing the nearest tree, Mona decided to strike a pose first by her cage. Maybe she knew that we had planted cameras everywhere to take her photographs. It was comical. But soon enough, she started climbing, and climbing higher and higher. Mona was finally free!
Mona posing for a moment by her travel cage before climbing a tree
Sarmi was next. RHOI Post-Release Monitoring (PRM) Coordinator, Wulan, opened the door to her travel cage. Unlike Mona, Sarmi didn’t waste any time. She chose a tree and climbed right away. Then she stopped at a nice sturdy branch in the canopy and she, too, posed for the camera!
Spotting Mona on a nearby tree, Sarmi decided to approach her long-time friend. She poked Mona on the elbow to ask her to play. But Mona, still tired from the effects of sedation and the long journey to the forest, looked a bit irritated and ignored Sarmi’s request to hang out. The drama in the forest has started.
Sarmi asking Mona to hang out with her
Last but not least, Emerson’s travel cage was opened by Samboja Lestari’s Technician, Agus. The big guy did not look happy. He must have been very tired and grumpy at having to wait for Sarmi and Mona. So he was a bit angry seeing Agus approaching his cage. He probably thought he was going to be transported somewhere else again. He shook his cage forcefully and attempted to damage the locks of the cage.
Another technician, Sam, tried to divert his attention by waving a leafy branch at him. It worked. Agus successfully opened his cage and Emerson hurtled out to the nearest tree and quickly climbed it. He finally calmed down and rested on a branch. Looking down at us, he didn’t look so angry anymore. He looked happy. In fact, the latest report received from the PRM Team this afternoon said that Emerson had made his first long call just before dusk telling everyone in the forest that the big guy had arrived!
Emerson’s first moments of freedom
Emerson, Sarmi and Mona are settling into a new life in the forest. A life they deserve, a life of freedom. The Kehje Sewen Forest is their new home sweet home.
The first day has concluded successfully. The emotion of the entire team is indescribable. We are filled with joy for these magnificent three and tomorrow, six more orangutans will claim this beautiful forest as their home. Let’s hope for another day of great weather and smooth journey for Acong, Agus, Noel, Mayang, Inge and Siwie.
One of these six is our 100th orangutan to be released by the BOS Foundation since 2012. Find out who it is tomorrow!
Text by: BOS Foundation and RHOI Communications Team
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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 1-2 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.
Text by: BOS Foundation Communication Team
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Jakarta, February 2, 2012. After nearly a week combing several oil palm plantations in the regency of Kutai Kartanegara, East Kalimantan, the Rescue and Release Operation which began on Tuesday, January 17, 2012 finally paid off. On Sunday, January 22, 2012, the Rescue Team, which was a joint-team of staff from PT Restorasi Habitat Orangutan Indonesia (RHOI), Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF), and The Office of Conservation and Natural Resources of East Kalimantan (BKSDA EastKal), managed to save two orangutans (mother and child) in the oil palm plantation of PT Bakacak Himba Bahari (BHB).
Our team prepare the cage to transport the orangutan
Orangutan Mother and Child Rescued from Massacre in Oil Palm Plantation and Released into an Ecosystem Restoration Area, Kehje Sewen Forest, East Kalimantan. Two orangutans (mother and child) were rescued on January 22, 2012 and released on January 25, 2012 in Kehje Sewen Forest, in the Regency of East Kutai, East Kalimantan. Kehje Sewen is a forest ecosystem restoration concession (HPH-RE). The right to manage this area has been awarded to PT RHOI.
A day earlier, the Rescue Team, led by Dr. Aldrianto Priadjati as RHOI Deputy Director of Conservation, had been combing the area but only found a few orangutan nests that were estimated to have been built 2-3 days before. On Sunday morning, January 22, 2012, the Rescue Team received anonymous information that there was a group of people chasing two orangutans in the area of BHB since the night before. Thus the Rescue Team returned to search the BHB area.
The rescue team try to find the orangutan
The orangutan are surrounded by a group of people
The Rescue Team arrived just in time. When the team arrived at the informed location, a group of people were visibly ready with machetes and ropes to catch these two orangutans. Seeing the presence of a team that was also accompanied by officials from BKSDA EastKal – Ahmad Ripai and Ridho – they immediately released the machetes and ropes, allowing the team to conduct the rescue.
The mother orangutan, estimated to be 25 years old, looked exhausted, so there was no resistance when the vet, drh. Agus Irwanto of East Kalimantan Orangutan Reintroduction Program Samboja Lestari – accompanied by Hendro and Muliyono, two technicians from Central Kalimantan Orangutan Reintroduction Program Nyaru Menteng – approached and sedated her. She just hugged her daughter, aged 6 years, very tightly. This behavior is contrary to the behavior of wild orangutans in general, where it is not possible for humans to simply approach them. This suggests that the mother was exhausted after being chased through the night.
According to our informant, the poachers were not local residents, which was apparent from their accent and manner of communicating. They seemed pleased when the team arrived; and even helped save the orangutans. But when the team thanked them and walked away without giving anything in return, their faces changed. It was clear that they expected something from the rescue.
Having checked their health, both orangutans were implanted with identity chips and the orangutan mother was then fitted with a radio transmitter that will be used for further monitoring. Both orangutans will be monitored regularly for several months to make sure that they”ve adjusted to their new home, in Kehje Sewen Forest.
“As a tribute to Dr. Sri Suci Utami, a leading primatologist in Indonesia who had also supported the team in this operation, the orangutans were named Suci (mother) and Sri (daughter),” said Dr. Priadjati. We further discovered that Suci is also about 3 months pregnant. “This is good news, because it means that in a few months, one more orangutan will be born in Kehje Sewen Forest,” added drh. Irwanto.
The radio transmitter was donated by an animal welfare organization – Vier Pfoten – also known as Four Paws. In addition, Vier Pfoten also funded this activity entirely.
After the chip and radio transmitter had been implanted, Suci and Sri were taken to Kehje Sewen by road. The team stopped regularly to do routine checks along the way, ensuring the wellbeing of the orangutans. To access Kehje Sewen, the team must go through the town of Muara Wahau in East Kutai Regency, then continue on to Pelangsiran, a transit area for agarwood and bird nest collectors, which is right on the border of Kehje Sewen Forest. After that, the team entered the Kehje Sewen Forest and to a designated release location, called Gunung Belah.
The rescue team are getting ready before departing
With unpredictable weather, the team traveled to the release location in harsh conditions and encountered many obstacles such as tracks that were badly damaged, slippery and muddy, landslides, broken bridges and several rivers that must be crossed with limited tools and mode of transportation. Due to these conditions, on arrival at the site of Gunung Belah, the team decided to bring Suci and Sri to their release point in the forest on a stretcher, because it was impossible to carry them in cages.
In the forest, Suci and Sri woke up from anesthesia and after a recovery period they began climbing up into the trees. They looked carefree and happy, swinging among branches of the trees.
Suci and Sri climb up the high tree
Suci swings among branches
The Rescue and Release Operation was completed successfully. The Rescue Team returned safely to their respective homelands. This activity was initiated from the goodwill of East Kalimantan provincial government, with a meeting between BOSF, RHOI and BKSDA EastKal with oil palm companies in East Kalimantan that belong to the Indonesian Palm Oil Association (GAPKI). The meeting, held on Saturday, January 14, 2012 eventually resulted in the formation of a Rescue Team seconded to BKSDA by the BOS Foundation, with the aim to find and save wild orangutans from oil palm plantations.
But the Rescue and Release Operation is not without consequences. “Releasing wild orangutans in Kehje Sewen Forest resulted in reduced area which was originally prepared for rehabilitated orangutans. RHOI requires more land for orangutans. RHOI has filed Ecosystem Restoration (RE) permit applications for additional lands in East Kalimantan and Central Kalimantan, but the process seems to run into various obstacles. Government support is needed to accelerate this process, so that rehabilitated orangutans that are now lining up in BOSF rehabilitation centers can be immediately released,” said Prof. Dr. Bungaran Saragih, as BOSF Chairman of the Board of Trustees.
In addition, the private sector, especially companies / oil palm plantations, in fact have a great responsibility in orangutan conservation efforts. The biggest challenge now is to make the private sector aware of this and get serious commitment from them. Most companies in Indonesia tend to oversimplify the process of natural resource management and charge environmental costs to other parties. Yet logically, externalities or negative impacts of a business should be included as part of the company”s own operational costs.
“Over recent years until now, the orangutan population has dropped dramatically and is on the verge of extinction. Saving wild orangutans from potential conflict with humans is only a short-term solution. Commitment and involvement of all parties, especially the private sector whose businesses intersect with their presence, is necessary to enforce the law and conserve the orangutans,” said Tandya Tjahjana, Head of BKSDA EastKal.
“We also still need a lot of financial support from various parties to continue the struggle to preserve the orangutan and its habitat,” added Dr. Signe Preuschoft, a primate expert from Vier Pfoten and concurrently advisor to BOSF.
In this new year 2012, Suci and Sri also get a new hope to return to live freely and safely in their habitat. The Orangutan Rescue and Release Operation, held in cooperation with RHOI, BOSF and BKSDA EastKal, with support from the Governments of East Kalimantan Province and East Kutai Regency, as well as Vier Pfoten, successfully demonstrated that the synergy between development and conservation is feasible and therefore should be mandatory.
BKSDA East Kalimantan and RHOI
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Paulina Laurensia Ela
What began as an innocent Sunday, turned into an afternoon of heartbreak
At around 4 pm on October 2, 2011, Fadilah Pendi Amat, a damar wood collector from Kasongan Village in Katingan Regency, Central Kalimantan, came to Nyaru Menteng with a small cardboard box in his hands. Inside the dirty box on top of an old blanket, lay a baby orangutan helpless and clearly in excruciating pain. His skin was burned in several places exposing open wounds and emanating a foul smell; the young orangutan was completely covered in his own filth. His condition was heartbreaking.
Pendi claimed that he wasn’t the one who discovered the orangutan and instead informed us that his friend Chen, found the baby in Takaras, a small village in the sub-regency of Mungku Baru, Palangkaraya. Situated on the edge of a forest, Takaras had experienced a recent forest fire, not far from the village. Reportedly Chen was collecting damar wood in the forest when he witnessed a fight between a wild dog and an orangutan mother. The entire body of the adult female orangutan was badly burnt and she was in very weak condition. We were informed that she tragically died in the fight, leaving her young son alone.
Concerned with the fate of the baby orangutan, Chen took him home. Three days later, Pendi walked past Chen’s hut and caught a glimpse of a baby orangutan. He was shocked to see the condition of the infant and suggested that Chen should surrender the tiny ape to the Nyaru Menteng – Central Kalimantan Orangutan Reintroduction Program. Admitting that he wouldn’t be able to provide the proper, much-needed care for the baby, Chen agreed which is how Pendi ended up at the gate of Nyaru Menteng, with a dirty cardboard box in his hands.
Nyaru Menteng Program Manager, Anton Nurcahyo, immediately agreed to take the infant and our medical team were called in to accept the young orangutan. Agus Fahroni, the veterinarian who was on duty that afternoon, took the male orangutan out of the box, brought him to the clinic and immediately ran intensive health checks.
The team at Nyaru Menteng named him Himba. Estimated to be just around 6 months old and weighing only 3.3 kg, Himba suffered from a high fever and serious burns to his hands, feet, head, forehead, nape, mouth, eyes and anus. Parts of his burned skin were flaky and had to be cut and cleaned with scissors. Two of his right hand fingers looked especially worrying. The injuries were massive and his broken fingers required surgery, which could not be done right away. He had to pass his blood tests and his condition needed to be stabilized before undergoing surgery.
Forest fire is a natural annual event in the dry season. Unfortunately, a large majority of forest fires are not due to natural causes. Forests are deliberately burned by humans to clear land and give way to various developments.
It’s hard to tell what really happened to Himba and his mother, or whether the fire was intentional and we are unlikely to ever find out. Nevertheless, this is yet another grim testimony of the true condition of orangutan habitats. Their forests are becoming more eroded and degraded and no longer ideal to contain life.
Today, Himba is still in intensive care. He is on continuous intravenous fluids and oxygen. Himba is also being treated with antibiotics and painkillers to minimize discomfort, indigestion medication, and vitamin injections to increase antibodies and promote healing process. Judging by the seriousness of his wounds, it’s likely that Himba will have to stay in intensive care for quite a while. The dedicated team at Nyaru Menteng is giving Himba the best possible care. They are monitoring him around the clock, patiently and lovingly. It is our hope that Himba will soon recover and be able to take part in our rehabilitation program.
Text by: BOS Foundation Communication Team
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