In line with our #OrangutanFreedom campaign launched this year, today Borneo Orangutan Survival (BOS) Foundation officially opens a new pre-release island for rehabilitated orangutans located in the East Kalimantan Orangutan Reintroduction Program at Samboja Lestari and releases 7 orangutans back to natural habitat
Samboja, East Kalimantan, July 11, 2017. BOS Foundation in Samboja Lestari will today move several more orangutans who have completed their Forest School rehabilitation to a new 3-hectare pre-release island known as ‘Island 8’. The utilisation of this island will help accelerate orangutan releases from the rehabilitation centre to the wild.
Since 2012, BOS Foundation has worked tirelessly to reintroduce orangutans that have spent many years progressing through our rehabilitation centres, and has thus far successfully released 282 orangutans in Kalimantan; with 68 in the Kehje Sewen Forest, East Kutai Regency. This extensive release program greatly depends on a continuing rehabilitation process, which in turn determines the readiness of orangutans to survive independently in the forest. After completing Forest School, the final stage of the rehabilitation process involves time on a pre-release island, where orangutans have the opportunity to practice and hone their survival skills prior to their final release to the wild.
At Samboja Lestari, BOS Foundationis already utilising seven smaller pre-release islands, with a total land area of 3.5 hectares. The addition of larger pre-release islands, which are currently under construction, is a breakthrough in the BOS Foundation’s orangutan rehabilitation program.
Dr. Ir. Jamartin Sihite, BOS Foundation CEO said; “This year we focus on #OrangutanFreedom and BOS Foundation has set a target of releasing 100 orangutans back to the forest from our rehabilitation centres in Central and East Kalimantan. This means we have to take more intensive measures and approaches to fulfil our target. One way is through acquiring or constructing new pre-release islands. In Samboja Lestari, four new manmade islands are under construction for our orangutans to hone their survival skills. We are also preparing another island elsewhere through joint cooperation with another party. I have always said that conservation requires collective work. It is impossible for us to save orangutans when the forest is still being cleared at breakneck speed. We need serious support from all stakeholders to help preserve orangutans and their habitat. We all need clean air and water, as well as a balanced climate. This means we need orangutans to help us preserve the remaining forest, and we must all work hand in hand to make this a reality.”
In addition to moving orangutans to the pre-release island, on the same day BOS Foundation will also reintroduce seven orangutans to the Kehje Sewen Forest in East Kutai Regency. The seven orangutans to be released include 3 males and 4 females, who are ready to live in the wild after completing a lengthy rehabilitation process through Forest School and pre-release stages. These seven orangutans will be transported from Samboja Lestari by road this afternoon, and will be released in the southern part of the Kehje Sewen Forest. Our team will stop every two hours on the 20-hour trip to feed and hydrate the orangutans, and check they are travelling well.
Dr. Aldrianto Priadjati, PT. RHOI’s Director of Conservation said; “Our release activities have been quite intensive in the Kehje Sewen Forest. Over the past six years, we have conducted 12 releases with 68 orangutans reintroduced. Now, we have to be careful when utilising the available forest area remaining. We cannot release orangutans in the same areas as this will lead to competition within the population over food resources. We need to explore and open up new areas to give orangutans the best chance possible to thrive in the forest. This means an increase in operational costs, because we will have to build a new camp, recruit more monitoring staff, and open up new monitoring transects. We still need larger forest areas to accommodate over one hundred orangutans that are currently progressing through the rehabilitation process in Samboja Lestari.”
The Kehje Sewen Forest is a 86,450-hectare area of rainforest in East Kalimantan managed as an Ecosystem Restoration Concession (ERC) by PT. RHOI (Restorasi Habitat Orangutan Indonesia), a company established by BOS Foundation in 2009. In 2010, PT RHOI acquired the relevant permit to utilize the Kehje Sewen Forest, specifically for use as a release site for rehabilitated orangutans from the Samboja Lestari rehabilitation program and orangutan reintroductions commenced in 2012. Based on surveys, the forest carrying capacity is 150 individuals; and it is already accommodating nearly half this amount. Thus far, two natural births have been recorded among our released orangutans in Kehje Sewen, which provides a positive indicator the forest is indeed a suitable habitat for orangutan reintroductions and long-term conservation of the species.
Ir. Sunandar Trigunajasa N., Head of the East Kalimantan BKSDA, said; “The East Kalimantan BKSDA greatly appreciates the solid cooperation we have with BOS Foundation. As mentioned by the Foundation, we too cannot work alone. We desperately need support and cooperation from the local government, communities, organisations, and private sectors to be able to conserve nature in general, and specifically orangutans in East Kalimantan. We all know that not enough good-quality forests remain. Together we should safeguard what is left, and help recover destroyed, natural habitats. Anybody can help, by simply reporting to us whenever you see a wrong doing or an illegal act that affects nature. Make a report if you see someone illegally catching a protected animal. If you have one in captivity, hand it over to us. Stopping the capture, killing, and domestication of protected animals is a huge step we can all take to help preserve nature.”
Dr. Elisabeth Labes, Co-founder, Head of International Projects and Partner Relations for BOS Switzerland says, “Every year, BOS Foundation has numerous orangutans ready to live free outside of their enclosures in the rehabilitation centre. The longer they stay in the centre, the more life skills they have previously developed will become rusty. We are now in a situation where we have to accelerate reintroductions. On behalf of BOS Switzerland, a partner of BOS Foundation, we are delighted to be able to fund the construction of new islands in Samboja Lestari including island #8 as well as supporting the 13th release to Kehje Sewen. These new islands will provide a natural environment for the orangutans living at the center, and it is our collective hope that the individuals to be released will soon create a new generation of wild orangutans in the forest.”
Inge Setiawati, BCA’s Executive Vice President Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) said, “PT. Bank Central Asia Tbk. (BCA) congratulates the inauguration of this orangutan pre-release island in Samboja Lestari. We are honored to be able to take part in the program aimed at streamlining the cycle of orangutan release from rehabilitation centers into natural forest. This support is not the first for BCA. BCA has been supporting many activites since 2012 to increase awareness of protected animal conservation, including Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus). BCA conducts its environmental CSR activities in cooperation with organizations with great concern and capacities in particular fields.”
The utilisation of this new pre-release island and orangutan reintroductions is only made possible through cooperation with 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. BOS Foundation is extremely grateful for the moral and financial support provided by BOS Switzerland for both events; PT Narkata Rimba, and PT. Bank Central Asia Tbk., for support in the release in Kehje Sewen Forest, and our partners in BOS Australia, BOS Germany, individual donors, and other organizations from around the world concerned with orangutan conservation in Indonesia.
Communications Staff Samboja Lestari
ABOUT THE BOS FOUNDATION
Founded in 1991, the BOS Foundation is a non-profit Indonesian organization dedicated to the conservation of Bornean orangutans and their habitats, working together with local communities, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry of the Republic of Indonesia, and international partner organizations.
Currently, the BOS Foundation is working to rehabilitate as many as 650 orangutans, with the support of 440 highly dedicated staff and experts in the fields of primatology, biodiversity, ecology, forest rehabilitation, agroforestry, community empowerment, communications, education, and orangutan welfare. For further information, please visit www.orangutan.or.id.
ABOUT PT RHOI
PT Restorasi Habitat Orangutan Indonesia (RHOI) is a company established by the BOS Foundation on April 21, 2009, solely to acquire the Utilization of Forest Timber Products licence through Restoration of the Ecosystem (IUPHHK-RE), also known as the Ecosystem Restoration Concession (ERC).
As a non-profit organisation, the BOS Foundation is not permitted to apply for certain licences due to government regulations. Hence, RHOI was established. The permit gives RHOI the authority to manage a concession area – in this case, a forest area – which is imperative in the planning and implementation of orangutan releases.
On August 18, 2010, RHOI was issued an ERC permit by the Ministry of Forestry, for an 86,450-hectare section of rainforest in East Kutai Regency, East Kalimantan. This ERC provides a suitable, protected, and sustainable habitat for orangutans for at least the next 60 years, with the option of extending for another 35 years. The funding to purchase the permit, which cost around US$1.4 million, was received from donors and the BOS Foundation’s partner organizations in Europe and Australia.
The forest’s name, ‘Kehje Sewen’, translates as ‘orangutan’ in local Dayak Wehea language. By name and nature, the Kehje Sewen Forest has become a forest for orangutans. For more information, please visit www.theforestforever.com.