In collaboration with the Central and East Kalimantan Natural Resources Conservation Agencies (BKSDA), the Borneo Orangutan Survival (BOS) Foundation has released 10 orangutans from its two rehabilitation centres: Nyaru Menteng in Central Kalimantan and Samboja Lestari in East Kalimantan. The release in Central Kalimantan took place in the Bukit Batikap Protection Forest, while the release in East Kalimantan took place in the Kehje Sewen Ecosystem Restoration Concession.
For their biggest operation yet in 2021, the BOS Foundation, together with the Central and East Kalimantan BKSDA, has carried back-to-back orangutan releases utilising helicopter transport, in Central and East Kalimantan. The release in Central Kalimantan reintroduced seven rehabilitated orangutans from the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre to the Bukit Batikap Protection Forest, in the Murung Raya Regency. Meanwhile, the release in East Kalimantan involved three orangutans from the Samboja Lestari Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre being released in the Kehje Sewen Forest in the East Kutai Regency.
The release in Central Kalimantan was conducted first, on 16 February and involved five male and two female orangutans, including one mother-offspring pair. From Nyaru Menteng, the orangutans were transported by car to the city of Kuala Kurun in the Gunung Mas Regency, where a helicopter, chartered from Hevilift, was waiting. The orangutans were then flown directly from the Kuala Kurun Airport to release points in the heart of the Bukit Batikap Protection Forest.
HANDI NASOKA, S.HUT., Acting Head of the Central Kalimantan Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA), welcomed the release: «Efforts to help curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus have hampered many conservation-related activities, especially in Central Kalimantan. I warmly welcome the initiative from our colleagues at the BOS Foundation, who have managed to implement new protocols and procedures to help curb the spread of COVID-19, for the sake of both the community and wildlife, while continuing to carry out important conservation work. We at the Central Kalimantan BKSDA are committed to upholding conservation efforts, even as the pandemic persists.»
The Bukit Batikap Protection Forest in the Murung Raya Regency is located far from the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre; It usually takes three days and two nights to reach the camp by car and boat. Therefore, the option of using air transport that significantly cuts travel time and the need to cross human settlements was welcomed by the team.
One of the orangutans released was Nenuah, a 19-year-old female who was repatriated from Thailand. Nenuah came to Nyaru Menteng in 2006, along with 47 other individuals. Prior to Nenuah’s release, only 6 other individuals from this group of 48 had made it all the way through rehabilitation and were released in a forest. The rest have unfortunately experienced difficulty in developing the natural skills and behaviours required to qualify for release, as a result of lengthy captivity during earlier years.
The release in East Kalimantan was carried out immediately after the one in Central Kalimantan. From the Samboja Lestari Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, a team from PT. Rehabilitasi Habitat Orangutan Indonesia (RHOI) transported three orangutans - two males and one female, aged between 21-28 years - to Juq Kehje Swen Island in Muara Wahau, East Kutai. From there, the same helicopter waited to take the orangutans directly to the release point on the northern side of the Kehje Sewen Forest.