Every orangutan release involves a long and complicated process, and is the main aim of the BOS Foundation’s effort in helping safeguard critically endangered great apes in their natural habitats. In its 25th anniversary this year, the BOS Foundation successfully achieved a set target of releasing 250 orangutans in a 5-year period.
On December 13, six orangutans (two males and four females, two of which were a mother-infant pair) set off from Samboja Lestari and headed to Muara Wahau, the capital of East Kutai Regency. The release team stopped every two hours to check in on the orangutans.
Orangutan Release team and orangutans travel to Muara Wahau
Stopping along the journey to check on the orangutans
The group reached Muara Wahau the following day, and from there continued on for another five hours until reaching a point 200 meters from the banks of the Telen River – the last point accessible by vehicle. The team had to carry the transport cages down to the riverbank and move them across to the other side of the river using a ces (small boat). Once they reached the other side, the cages were loaded onto two waiting utility vehicles that would carry them to the release points deep in the Kehje Sewen Forest.
Crossing the Telen River by ces
The muddy and slippery trail saw the orangutan release team exert extra effort to get the vehicles moving
An overcast sky pushed the team to work faster to release the orangutans, to avoid an imminent downpour. The last orangutan was release at around 1 p.m.
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Bungaran, the 250th #OrangutanRelease
Bungaran, the first offspring of Signe, was born on April 5, 2015 in Samboja Lestari. In the rehabilitation centre, Signe proved herself a loving mother who carefully nurtured Bungaran, passing on the vital skills he would need to survive in the wild. They were released together, with Bungaran becoming the 250thorangutan released by the BOS Foundation.
Mother-infant pair Signe and Bungaran was released by BOS Foundation CEO Jamartin Sihite, and technicians Imam Ghazali and Agus
Signe and Bungaran are now living happily in the Kehje Sewen Forest. Our monitoring team have witnessed the strong bond between this mother-infant pair, with Signe seen patiently guiding Bungaran in his new surroundings, teaching him to identify natural foods, climb trees, and build nests. We expect this pair will thrive in the Kehje Sewen Forest.
With the release of these six, the BOS Foundation has now released a total 251 orangutans since 2012, with 55 released to the Kehje Sewen Forest.
The conservation status of the Bornean orangutan has reached the ‘critically endangered’ mark. This has driven the BOS Foundation to strengthen cooperation with the East Kalimantan BKSDA and other stakeholders to increase the number and frequency of orangutan releases from its rehabilitation centres.
Meanwhile, the BOS Foundation continues to receive and rescue displaced orangutans, most of which are orphaned infants and babies. The Samboja Lestari and Nyaru Menteng rehabilitation centres still “school” around 700 orangutans, and most will need to be released eventually. Therefore, we need to keep sourcing suitable, natural habitats to ensure the continuation of successful releases.
Support and commitment from the government, both central and regional, is instrumental. This particular release was generously supported by several figures from the arts and entertainment industry, including model and founder of Garda Satwa Indonesia, Davina Veronica; actress, model, and TV personality, Dominique Diyose, together with husband, filmmaker Ivan Handoyo; and award-winning rap group Fade2Black. These individuals and groups helped spread national awareness on the importance of saving orangutans and their habitats.
PRM team with Fade 2 Black, Davina Veronica, Dominique Diyose, and Ivan
This release was only possible through cooperation between the BOS Foundation and the East Kalimantan BKSDA, the Provincial Government of East Kalimantan, the local governments of East Kutai and Kutai Kartanegara regencies, and the local residents of said regencies. The BOS Foundation is extremely grateful for the moral and financial support provided by BOS Switzerland, individual donors, and other partners and organisations from around the world concerned with orangutan conservation in Indonesia.
Text by: BOS Foundation Communications team