The Borneo Orangutan Survival (BOS) Foundation, together with PT. Sawit Sumbermas Sarana (SSMS) Tbk., have prepared three orangutans for transfer to a forested, sanctuary island located in the Salat Island cluster, Pulang Pisau Regency, Central Kalimantan. This is the first attempt to transfer orangutans since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic last year. The transfer will be carried out under special, strict protocols to prevent the transmission of the COVID-19 virus to both humans and orangutans.
Badak Kecil Sanctuary Island is utilised to accommodate healthy ‘unreleasable’ orangutans. The arrival of these three orangutans will increase the island's population to 10 individuals.
PT. SSMS and the BOS Foundation will work together to transfer three orangutans, all of whom have undergone rehabilitation at the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, to Badak Kecil Island; a secure, forested sanctuary island in the Salat Island cluster, Pulang Pisau Regency, Central Kalimantan.
The three orangutans - Dilla, Mawas and Jeliva - are all female, with an age range of 13-17 years. All three spent years undergoing the rehabilitation process at the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, but were ultimately deemed unsuccessful in developing the natural skills and behaviours needed to survive independently in the wild. Their good health, however, allows them to live on a sanctuary island with an environment similar to that of a natural forest.
The Nyaru Menteng team is mindful that this transfer effort will be conducted in the midst of a pandemic, making it a different mission than usual. The risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus to both staff and orangutans is always lurking. For this reason, the BOS Foundation has introduced special protocols for all activities involved in the movement of orangutans outside of the rehabilitation centre, including the testing of orangutan candidates for COVID-19 while in pre-transfer quarantine.
HANDI NASOKA, S.HUT., Acting Head of the Central Kalimantan Natural Resources Conservation Agency, said that orangutan and habitat conservation activities must continue: «We are aware that the pandemic makes it difficult to carry out orangutan rescues and rehabilitation activities. However, conservation efforts must continue, and we truly appreciate the efforts made by our BOS Foundation colleagues in introducing new protocols that will enable us to continue operations despite the challenging situation. I am confident the transfer will take place as planned.»
The Salat Island cluster, an area of more than 2,000 hectares located in the Kahayan River delta, is managed by SSMS and the BOS Foundation to function as an orangutan conservation area. Badak Kecil Island, covering an area of 104 hectares, is part of this cluster of islands, and is used specifically as a sanctuary for orangutans who are physically healthy, yet lack sufficient natural skills and behaviours to be released to the wild.
VALLAUTHAN SUBRAMINAM, President Director of PT. Sawit Sumbermas Sarana (SSMS) Tbk., added: «We have been working very closely with the BOS Foundation to support efforts to conserve orangutans and their habitat, especially in managing sanctuary and pre-release islands as part of the overall orangutan rehabilitation process. Despite current turbulent business conditions, we remain committed to environmental sustainability. We believe, even in the midst of the pandemic, we can continue to carry out conservation activities for orangutans and their habitat.»