Great ape reintroduction is a complex process and in Indonesia a significant focus for Borneo Orangutan Survival (BOS) Foundation to contribute towards saving Critically Endangered Bornean orangutans from extinction. By the end of 2016, which also marks BOS Foundation’s 25th Anniversary, another six orangutans will be released bringing the total number of orangutans released by BOS Foundation since 2012, to 251.
Samboja, East Kalimantan, December 13, 2016. Before BOS Foundation’s 25th year comes to an end, we are teaming up with the East Kalimantan BKSDA to release a further six (6) orangutans into safe natural forest. This release will bring the total number of orangutans released by BOS Foundation into Central and East Kalimantan since 2012, to 251.
This particular release from Samboja Lestari to the Kehje Sewen Forest will increase the total number of orangutans released in Kehje Sewen since 2012 to 55 individuals.
The group of six orangutans – consisting of two (2) males and four (4) females, two of them are a pair of mother-infant – will be taken on a 12-hour road trip from Samboja Lestari to Muara Wahau, the state city of East Kutai Regency. The team will stop every two hours to check the orangutans and provide food and water. From Muara Wahau, the journey will continue for another five hours until the team reaches a point 200 meters from the Telen River, which is the last spot accessible by car. The team will carry the five transport cages down to the riverbank and load them onto boats known as ‘ces’ to cross the river. The cages will then be loaded onto 4×4 vehicles and taken to release points in the Kehje Sewen Forest.
The Kehje Sewen Forest is an 86,450-hectare rainforest in East Kalimantan managed as an Ecosystem Restoration Concession (ERC) area by PT RHOI (Restorasi Habitat Orangutan Indonesia). BOS Foundation purchased this ERC in 2010, specifically to be used as a release area for rehabilitated orangutans.
Dr. Aldrianto Priadjati, RHOI Conservation Director, said; “A long process is involved with every orangutan release. Even longer is the process of ensuring that the orangutans we release today will survive and reproduce in the Kehje Sewen Forest. We have released 49 orangutans to the Kehje Sewen Forest since 2012, and today we have increased this number to 55. Most of the orangutans released here have already successfully passed the first year of adaptation and monitoring, and we have documented two wild births thus far. This is a positive indication of the success of our rehabilitation process leading up to reintroduction. We hope that more infants will be born in the near future, to help form a new viable wild orangutan population in Kehje Sewen.”
Head of the East Kalimantan Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA), Ir. Sunandar Trigunajasa N., said; “Conservation efforts to save protected species and habitat is a collective responsibility that lies on the shoulders of the government, society, private sectors, and mass organizations. With ever-decreasing natural habitats, the responsibility to preserve endangered and critically endangered species is greater than ever. Therefore, we need to support this orangutan release and other activities initiated by the BOS Foundation. So far, cooperation between the BOS Foundation and the East Kalimantan BKSDA in rescuing, rehabilitating, and releasing orangutans truly supports orangutan and habitat conservation. I strongly urge other stakeholders to join us in preserving our rich biodiversity.”
At the start of this year, the conservation status of Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus) joined that of Sumatran orangutans (Pongo abelii) when it was upgraded to “critically endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This status reclassification was largely due to the rapid decline in natural orangutan habitat.
Dr. Ir. Jamartin Sihite, BOS Foundation CEO said; “The conservation status of Bornean orangutans is alarming. It has pushed the BOS Foundation and East Kalimantan BKSDA to work harder to accelerate the successful reintroduction of orangutans that are waiting in rehabilitation centres. Commemorating our 25th anniversary, today we plan to release the 250th orangutan by the BOS Foundation in less than 5 years. We must strive to continue undertaking successful orangutan reintroductions to cope with the volume of orangutans still within our care; 200 orangutans in Samboja Lestari, and up to 500 in Nyaru Menteng, Central Kalimantan. As soon as each individual has completed their rehabilitation and have all the forest skills they need to return safely to the wild, we need to release them to natural habitat.
“This is our collective responsibility,” he added. “Support and commitment from the government, both central and regional; from the community; from institutions and organizations, both business and non-profits, is still needed. Not only to help provide suitable habitats, but also to impose stricter enforcement of the laws regarding habitat destruction. Otherwise, the number of orangutans we successfully release will fail to contribute to orangutan and habitat conservation efforts. Today, we have the support of some of our art and entertainment industry friends. Tomorrow, we hope to receive support from everybody.”
Several well-known art and entertainment figures will join the release team on the journey to the Kehje Sewen Forest. They include; model and the Director of Garda Satwa Indonesia, Davina Veronica; actress, model and TV personality, Dominique Diyose together with her filmmaker husband Ivan Handoyo; and rap group Fade 2 Black.
This release has only been 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.
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 700 orangutans with the support of 400 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. On August 18, 2010, RHOI was issued an ERC permit, giving it the authority to use and manage 86,450 hectares of rainforest in East Kutai and Kutai Kertanegara Regencies, East Kalimantan. 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.
This concession provides a sustainable and secure habitat for orangutans for at least 60 years, with the option of extending for another 35 years. Issued by the Ministry of Forestry, this ERC licence cost around US$1.4 million, which was funded by generous donations from donors and the BOS Foundation’s partner organizations in Europe, Australia and the US.
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.