LEARNING TO LIVE WITH OUR FOREST-DWELLING NEIGHBOURS
Human population growth and the expansion of development into forest regions has the potential to lead to human-orangutan conflict.
One of the skills our Post-Release Monitoring (PRM) team members learn when working in the Kehje Sewen Forest is the ability to fire a tranquiliser gun. Every one of our team members must possess this skill so that they can support our veterinarians if there is an orangutan who needs to be anaesthetised in the forest. Our team members also use manual blowguns that are fired by a quick and strong exhale of one’s breath, as these are a traditional weapon of the local Dayak people.
Blowguns are long and narrow tubes that a tranquiliser dart can be loaded into, then launched using a forced exhalation. Our team uses blowguns for targets that are at close range. For targets further away, our team uses air rifles, charged with controlled air pressure, to avoid causing excessive physical damage to the orangutans. When tranquilising an orangutan with either a blowgun or airgun, our team members aim for the arms, legs, and fatty areas on their back: you must never aim for the front of an orangutan’s body, as this could injure their vital organs.
Recently, our PRM team held a competition to see who was the most skilled blowgun and airgun operator. This activity was both an exercise and a test for our team.
Explaining correct usage of air rifle (Photo credit: Ayu)
Emen, taking shot (Photo credit: Ayu)
Using blowpipe (Photo credit: Ayu)
The competition started with the preparation of equipment - airguns, blowguns, and practice targets. Then, staff member Vet Mutia reviewed the procedures for right usage of the guns and outlined the competition rules. Taking turns, our team members shot at the targets to collect points. It was a very lively atmosphere, with the entire team cheering every time a fellow teammate managed to shoot a high point on the board.
The competition was won by PRM team member Yunus J, who obtained a high score of 32! In second place was Emen, with a score of 29, followed by Rofinus in third place with a score of 27.