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Radio Transmitter Implant for Nyaru Menteng Release Candidates
May 2, 2013
Finding, following and observing orangutans in their habitat are far from easy. These smart apes often mislead the observers, move swiftly without any sound, and hide in dark shadows of the dense forest canopy. Most of them are no longer comfortable around humans. And this is a good sign. It means they are becoming wilder and increasingly behaving like a real orangutan.
Tiny but Extraordinary Device
Even so, monitoring them is an important part of the entire orangutan reintroduction process. Through monitoring we can evaluate the success of our rehabilitation program. If there is a shortage, we can fix it before the next release.
This is why every orangutan release candidate has to be implanted with a small device prior to release. The device is called a radio transmitter, which will help us detect the signals of orangutans after they are released in the forest so they can be more easily found, followed and observed.
Towards the end of April, at the same time when our friends at Samboja Lestari, East Kalimantan were busy releasing their three orangutans in the Kehje Sewen Forest, the Nyaru Menteng Medical Team was also busy preparing orangutan release candidates planned to be released throughout 2013. For four consecutive days the team conducted minor surgery and implanted a radio transmitter under the skin tissue on the nape of every candidate.
Mongky and Bento, two orangutan release candidates, underwent radio transmitter implant surgeries on April 22 by vet Maryos V. Tandang. On the next day, it was Slamet and Monmon’s turn to be implanted by vet Meryl Yemima. Followed by Lona and Nielsen who were fitted with radio transmitters on April 24 by vet Agus Fahroni. The rest, Nopi, Zona and Shelli, were implanted on April 25 by vet Riani Anggun Mumpuni.
Radio transmitter implant surgery must be done at least two months before the release. Once implanted, the Medical Team must conduct regular inspections to ensure that the incision has completely healed and that the device works properly.
Congrats to the Candidates!
In order to choose orangutan release candidates, a series of criteria must be met. The first is the age. Rehabilitants (orangutans rescued at a very young age and/or had been kept as pets) have to age more than 7 years old to be considered for release; while the semi-wild orangutans must be more than 5 years old.
They must also pass health checks and are confirmed free from fatal diseases. Then they undergo genetic tests to ensure they are indeed of the Central Kalimantan origin, i.e. of the sub-species Pongo pygmaeus wurmbii.
Surely their forest skills are also assessed to determine their readiness for release. They must be able to build nests, choose forest food, live in trees (arboreal), and can identify danger – both natural dangers such as predators and natural disasters, as well as human disturbance.
For all 2013 candidates, the long process of rehabilitation has reached the final stage. Now they are just waiting at the Nyaru Menteng Quarantine Enclosure for their turn to be released in the wild, while also recovering from their radio transmitter implant surgeries. We hope release activities throughout 2013 will run smoothly and safely. And congratulations to all orangutan release candidates!
Text: Monterado Fridman, Nyaru Menteng Communication and Education Coordinator
Photos: Indrayana, Nyaru Menteng Enrichment Staff and Photographer
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