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April 21, 2017
PT. Restorasi Habitat Orangutan Indonesia, or PT. RHOI, is an entity established by BOS Foundation to ensure that sufficient areas of natural forest are secured to support the reintroduction of Bornean orangutans from our orangutan rehabilitation centres in East and Central Kalimantan. Between 2002 to 2012, our reintroduction program temporarily halted due to the challenges in obtaining suitable release sites, resulting in a weighty queue of orangutans ready for a life in the wild. Clearly, this was an urgent and critical challenge to overcome.
Orangutans arriving at our rehabilitation centres have either been rescued, or confiscated and handed over by authorities. Many orangutans have spent most, if not all, of their lives as captive pets. Living in confinement and being fed by humans, they lose their natural abilities and the vital forest skills needed to survive. Our rehabilitation programs at Samboja Lestari and Nyaru Menteng help them build the skills they need through several stages of learning. A large majority of these orangutans can later be successfully reintroduced into the wild.
Releasing orangutans is not as easy as it may seem: It is not as simple as opening up a cage and letting them roam off into any forest. Rehabilitated orangutans require a secure and sustainable habitat, one in which they are safe from the threat of human intervention, and which is large enough to accommodate a viable orangutan population. Even after their release, our orangutans are monitored closely for more than a year to ensure a high adaptation success rate across the seasons.
On April 21, 2009, PT. Restorasi Habitat Orangutan Indonesia (RHOI) came to life for a specific purpose; to obtain an Ecosystem Restoration Forest Concession (IUPHHK-RE) specifically for orangutan reintroduction. An IUPHHK-RE grants RHOI the authority to utilize and manage a concession area - in this case, a vast section of forest -which we desperately need for our rehabilitated orangutans. On August 18, 2010, RHOI obtained an IUPHHK-RE from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, which granted it the authority to manage an 86,450-hectare area of forest in East Kutai Regency, East Kalimantan. This forest provides a suitable, protected, and sustainable habitat for orangutans for the next 60 years. RHOI named the forest Kehje Sewen, which means ‘forest for orangutans’.
It has been eight years since RHOI’s establishment, and much progress has been made. From 2012 to date, 62 orangutans from Samboja Lestari were reintroduced to Kehje Sewen Forest. Among the 62 released, two adult females - Yayang and Lesan – have given birth to our first wild babies in Kehje Sewen, which is a great indicator of the success of our orangutan reintroduction program; one that is generating a new population of wild orangutans. Based on our post-release monitoring data, the reintroduction success rate in Kehje Sewen Forest currently stands at around 74%.
Yayang and her baby, Louise
Lesan and her baby
To continue monitoring the released orangutans, the BOS Foundation has Post-Release Monitoring (PRM) teams on location full-time in Kehje Sewen Forest. Two camps were built to house our PRM team members in the forest: Camp Lesik in the north of the Kehje Sewen, and Camp Nles Mamse in the south. From these camps, teams are deployed daily to monitor the progress of our released orangutans and conduct routine patrols. Our PRM teams not only collect data on orangutans, but also on the other wildlife species found in Kehje Sewen. Approximately 97% of the Kehje Sewen Forest’s total area is now under RHOI management.
Our PRM Team in the Kehje Sewen Forest
In addition to securing a safe location to release orangutans, BOS Foundation and PT. RHOI also focus on other activities, including forest management and long-term habitat protection involving local communities through partnership and empowerment; training, research and development; and trade in the form of sustainable non-timber forest products and services for domestic and international markets. These are all intended to create a better future for orangutans, a supportive community and to support global efforts in combating the serious threat of global warming and climate change.
The presence of orangutans in a forest area is an indicator of its quality: Orangutans help maintain a healthy forest, which in turn provides us with clean air and water. BOS Foundation and RHOI will continue to strive for #OrangutanFreedom, with the hope our rehabilitated orangutans will be able to create a new, sustainable wild population.
Happy birthday RHOI! May the ‘Forest Forever’ (http://theforestforever.com/) be the kingdom of the orangutan.
Text by: Paulina L. Ela, Communication Specialist of BOS Foundation
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