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.
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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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.
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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