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Bogor, West Java

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.

IR. SUNANDAR TRIGUNAJASA N., M.M., Head of the East Kalimantan Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA), said: «The government has gone to great lengths to prevent the spread of COVID-19, not only amongst human communities, but also amongst wildlife that is subject to biodiversity conservation activities. The implementation of these policies has been carried out with the aim of not only protecting animals under the care of humans at conservation facilities from the threat of this coronavirus, but also the wild populations. We are grateful that we were able to continue our work together with our colleagues at the BOS Foundation by developing protocols that allow the rehabilitation process to carry on while still reducing the risk for COVID-19 spread in orangutan conservation activities. We cannot afford to stop our work in under any circumstance. What we must do is keep on innovating and adapting to the dynamic conditions and moving forward.»

DR. IR. JAMARTIN SIHITE, BOS Foundation CEO, said: «For an entire year, we have not been able to release orangutans due to the global pandemic, but we are still strongly committed to the orangutan conservation effort. We have taken advantage of this one-year gap to rewrite and finalise a new set of protocols for implementing activities in the midst of a pandemic, which allow us to continue saving orangutans. We conduct regular tests on staff to ensure that those who interact with orangutans are safe from COVID-19, as well as ensure the orangutans released from our rehabilitation centres are also healthy and free of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

We have implemented strict health protocols, and introduced mitigation plans to be enacted in the event of an orangutan contracting to the virus. Furthermore, the use of a helicopter for these orangutan releases also helps reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. We are relieved that the procedures we have implemented to date have worked well, but we continue to hope that we all can overcome this pandemic. We will continue to strive to prevent the transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 to orangutans, both those we care for and those who live freely in the wild.»

To ensure a successful conservation effort that involves all stakeholders, the BOS Foundation continues to work closely with the Government of Indonesia at all levels, and would like to express appreciation in particular for the contributions of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry; the Central and East Kalimantan BKSDA offices; the provincial governments of Central and East Kalimantan; and the regional governments and communities of the Murung Raya, Kutai Kartanegara, and East Kutai regencies.

The BOS Foundation would also like to acknowledge the invaluable support of our official global partner organisations (BOS Australia, BOS Germany, BOS Switzerland, BOS UK, and Save the Orangutan), Orangutan Outreach, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, PT. First State Investments Indonesis, Citibank N.A. Indonesia, private-sector supporters like PT. SSMS and PT. NAS, the Kuala Kurun Airport, Hevilift, other conservation organisations, and individual supporters from around the globe who contribute significantly to our work and nature conservation efforts in Indonesia.

Editors Note :

Nunu Anugrah, S.Hut., M.Sc
Kepala Biro Humas
Kementerian Lingkungan Hidup dan Kehutanan RI

Images and video documentation are available on this following Dropbox link.

The Press release is available on the following link:



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