Tag: orangutan

At Indonesian forest school, orangutans learn to be wild

Semboja – Gerhana was on the brink of death when he
was rescued, starved, underweight and with an air rifle bullet lodged
in his left shoulder and no hair.

But now, the 11-month-old orangutan with reddish crew-cut hair can
move from one tree to another with agility and eats forest food with
gusto.

Gerhana is one of eight “pupils” at the newly established forest
school founded by Austria-based conservation group Four Paws in a
rainforest on the Indonesian part of Borneo island, where orphan
orangutans will be raised in a way that matches their species’ natural
upbringing in the wild.

“The goal of the project is to train these orangutans so that in a few
years, they will be able to return to a natural forest and live there
completely free and independent,” said Signe Preuschoft, an
experienced primatologist who heads the school.

Preuschoft runs the school with local conservation group Jalan Pulang
and an Indonesian team of 15 animal caretakers, a biologist and two
veterinarians, with support from the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry
and Environment.

The orangutans travel daily from their sleeping quarters to the school
and learn with their human surrogate mothers the skills that their
birth mothers would normally teach them, such as climbing, foraging
and building a sleeping nest.

They are divided into different classes, depending their individual
development level and pace, Preuschoft said.

Gonda was kept by a family of farmers who treated him like a human
child, resulting in his muscles and use of hands and feet being
underdeveloped.

Now at 17 months, he can hang upside down and hold onto a branch with
only his legs.

“Gonda still has a long way to unlearn his human dependence and enjoy
orangutan-appropriate behaviors,” Preuschoft said.

“Eating forest foods and playing in the trees are his biggest
challenges,” she said.

Five rehabilitated orangutans released into wild in Kalimantan

Five orangutans have now returned to living in their natural habitat in an East Kalimantan forest after spending up to six years in rehabilitation.

“The five orangutans have been successfully released back into the forest on Saturday morning,” Paulina Laurensia, a spokeswoman for a conservation and rescue agency for the endangered species, Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOS Foundation) told The Parrot.

The three males and two females, named Angely, Gadis, Kenji, Hope and Raymond, were transported overland from Samboja Lestari rehabilitation center near Balikpapan to Kehje Sewen forest in East Kutai and Kutai Kertanegara regencies.

Kehje Wehen means ‘orangutan’ in the dialect of Dayak Wehea, the indigenous tribe who live in the East Kalimantan forest.

According to BOS Foundation, Kehje Sewen is a 86,450-hectare rainforest that managed as an ecosystem restoration concession. The foundation bought the forest in 2010 so they can have a place to release rehabilitated orangutans back into their natural habitat.

The rehabilitation center team and the orangutans departed Friday from Samboja and traveled for about 12 hours to Muara Wahau, a sub-district in East Kalimantan with regular stops in every two hours to check on the big apes’ conditions. They then took another five-hour trip to the edge of the forest and continued the journey by boat across the river to reach the release points in the forest.

Agus Irwanto, a veterinarian at the Samboja Lestari said in a press release that they hope the released orangutans could generate a new wild population, as they joined the other 40 previously released orangutans in the forest that were released between 2012 – 2015.

The rehabilitation program was in doubt last year when more than 150 hectares of forest surrounding Samboja Lestari was destroyed by fire as they would not be able to find a place that can accommodate the center’s 200 orangutans, should they need to be evacuated, said Jamartin Sihite, CEO of the BOS Foundation.

“We need participation from everyone to make sure this will not happen again. The East Kalimantan Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) and other authorities have been generously supporting our efforts, nevertheless we still need much firmer law enforcement to help protect orangutans and their habitat in East Kalimantan,” Jamartin said.