Last November, our pre-release islands in the Salat Island Cluster where orangutans undergo the final stage of rehabilitation, experienced flooding. This impacted the daily activities of the orangutans on the islands, as they had to stay off the ground and remain up in the trees to avoid the floodwaters. It also provided an ideal lesson for some of the orangutans on the islands, like Valentino, who spend too much time on the ground; They quickly realised that the safest place was in the trees!
For almost a week, while the Salat Islands were submerged by floodwaters, Valentino learned to be independent and overcome challenges. This is one of the goals of the pre-release stage of rehabilitation - to place orangutans in uncertain, natural conditions to see how they use their forest skills to survive.
After the floodwaters had subsided, Valentino's behaviour changed. While he did spend some time in the trees, he was observed returning to his old habit of conducting many of his activities back on the forest floor. When our technicians arrived to distribute food at the feeding platform, Valentino would often get into fights with other orangutans over food. He soon learned to avoid the other orangutans, but if they managed to snatch his food, he would look to technicians to get some more. Valentino is known for being a curious individual and will boldly steal fruit from the boat and run off with it whenever he gets the opportunity!
Valentino might still act a little spoiled and depend on the delivery of food, but according to observation data, he is also learning to look for natural foods, such as termites. He needs to keep working on his nest-building skills, however, as he still frequently repairs old nests made by other orangutans and uses them instead of constructing his own from scratch. He has a lot to learn about island life!
Valentino still has a long journey ahead of him on the pre-release island, before he can be released in the wild. We will keep supporting you, Valentino, until you find your way!