The Central Kalimantan Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) together with the Bukit Baka Bukit Raya National Park (TNBBBR) Office in collaboration with the Borneo Orangutan Survival (BOS) Foundation and other parties release rehabilitated orangutans in natural forests in Bukit Baka Bukit Raya National Park area in an effort to protect and conserve Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus).
Seven orangutans from the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre are scheduled for release today into TNBBBR in Katingan Regency, Central Kalimantan Province. The operation was started with a symbolic opening ceremony at the Central Kalimantan KSDA Office, overseen by the Director of Biodiversity Conservation of the Directorate General of KSDAE on June 3, 2021.
DRH. INDRA EXPLOITASIA, M.Si, the Director of Biodiversity Conservation, in her remarks, expressed her appreciation for all parties involved in the release of these orangutans, even though the operation takes place in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, requiring all parties to carry out their various conservation endeavours under strict health protocols.
The government is committed to preserving Indonesia's biodiversity through systematic conservation efforts and the sustainable use of natural resources, ensuring that the health of the natural ecosystems and the vast species diversity they contain are preserved. One of the efforts to preserve biodiversity is through the reintroduction of rehabilitated wildlife, especially orangutans, into their natural habitat. Reintroduction is a long process that starts from rescuing animals and is followed by rehabilitation, release, and monitoring to ensure that these rescued animals can live and breed in their habitats.
The orangutan is one of the great ape species whose existence is vital in maintaining the balance and health of their ecosystem. A well-breeding population of orangutans is an indicator of good forest health and this is not only beneficial for the species itself, but also for other animals with whom they share an ecosystem. The Bornean orangutan is a species protected by Law no. 5/1990 and it holds the status of Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List. As a protected animal with such precarious status, orangutan conservation efforts have become a concern not only at the national level but also internationally. Support and collaboration from all parties, both central and local governments, universities, NGOs, the private sector, the community, and the media, including involvement of younger generation, is very important to the sustained preservation of this species and its habitat long into the future.
Today's orangutan release event is part of «Living in Harmony with Nature: Preserving State-Owned Wildlife», a series of activities launched by the Minister of Environment and Forestry in 2021. The series also commemorates World Environment Day which falls on June 5 and welcomes the National Nature Conservation Day on August 10.
HANDI NASOKA, S.HUT., Acting head of the Central Kalimantan Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) said that the seven orangutans to be released consist of four males (Barlian 10 y.o., Darryl 12, Randy 14, and Unggang 10), and three females (Amber 16, Reren 8, and Suayap 22). Of these seven individuals, five individuals were handed over from residents, one orangutan was repatriated from Thailand (Suayap), and one individual was rescued during a joint operation between the Central Kalimantan BKSDA wildlife rescue team and the BOS Foundation. All of these orangutans have gone through a rehabilitation period between 7 and 16.5 years and have been declared healthy. Their SARS-CoV-2 PCR swab results are negative so we can declare them ready to be released into their natural habitat.
AGUNG NUGROHO, S.Si, M.A., Head of the Bukit Baka Bukit Raya National Park Office (TNBBBR) said that the orangutans that will be released will need to undertake a long journey before finally reaching their new home within the Bemban Watershed of TNBBBR, specifically in National Park Management Section Region II Kasongan. The journey to the release points will take approximately 15-20 hours (including rest), by land and river. After the release, intensive monitoring will be carried out for two months by the monitoring team, to ensure that the orangutans successfully adjust to life in their new habitat.
To date, the TNBBBR Office, together with the Central Kalimantan BKSDA and in collaboration with the BOS Foundation and other parties, have reintroduced 174 orangutans since 2016 including those that will be released today. All releases that have been carried out since 2016 throughout TNBBBR in both the provinces of Central Kalimantan and West Kalimantan with assorted partners totals 234 released individuals, with 5 (five) new-born babies in the wild.