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Reintroducing orangutans into the forest is not an easy task by any standard and requires detailed planning especially with regards to the specific release points in the forest. This year our releases will take place in the southern area of the Kehje Sewen forest, East Kalimantan, and preparations have started in full force.

For the past two years we have been releasing orangutans into the northern section of Kehje Sewen and currently there are 26 individuals roaming that area. The regular Post Release Monitoring (PRM) reports revealed that several individuals had chosen to stay close in a relatively a small area.

“From the data we have collected we can clearly demonstrate that orangutans, although released at different and rather distant points, chose to move to the Muara Soh, Sungai Tyo and Gunung Belah area,” said PRM coordinator, Bani.

If we were to continue to release in the northern region of Kehje Sewen, this would lead to   overcrowding and place orangutans in direct competition with each other for food which would lead to conflict. So, after careful research we have identified new release points in the southern part of Kehje Sewen.

Releases in the northern zone (around Camp Lesik) have been temporarily suspended to give time for each orangutan to adapt and settle into its individual territory. However, we will continue to monitor the orangutans’ progress in this region through our ongoing post-release monitoring activities.

In anticipation of expanding our release points RHOI and the BOS Foundation have already started to form the three teams which will be in charge of preparing the southern area. The first team led by Azwar and Tyo will be responsible for recording phenology data, establishing transects to support post-release monitoring, determining the individual release points and establishing the ideal location for a flying camp (a temporary camp used during the release process), assisted by Ambri, Agus, Awal and Guswan.

Preparing the Orangutan Release Area in South of Kehje Sewen (Photo credit: Ari Meididit)

Preparing the Orangutan Release Area in South of Kehje Sewen (Photo credit: Eko Prasetyo)

Preparing the Orangutan Release Area in South of Kehje Sewen (Photo credit: Ari Meididit)

The second team led by Nur and assisted by Fajar, Deni and Gending, will be responsible for the construction of an unmade road to enable the release to actually take place. While the third team consisting of Ariyo and Tatang will be responsible for dealing with all the paperwork and documents needed for the orangutan release.

There is a huge amout of work to complete prior to our next release in East Kalimantan and our team remain focused on achieving these activities ready to welcome our orangutans.

Good luck, team!

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