Five Orangutans Formerly Kept As “Pets” In West Borneo Are Rehabilitated & Released Back Into Their Rainforest Home

Five orangutans were released back into the wild in West Borneo after they were all rescued from captivity. Sadly, their mothers had been killed so that the babies could be captured and sold on the black market as “pets.”

Prior to their release, the orphaned orangutans had spent years undergoing rehabilitation at an orangutan center in Ketapang, West Borneo.

The release was carried out by the Natural Resources Conservation Agency for West Kailmantan (BKSDA), the Bukit Baka Bukit Raya National Park (TNBBBR), and a team from International Animal Rescue (IAR) Indonesia.

The five orangutans consisted of three males named Jacky, Beno, and Puyol, and two females named Oscarina and Isin.

Isin was the most recent orangutan to be rescued from Kayong Utara district in 2017, while Puyol had spent the longest time in the IAR rehabilitation center, having been rescued in the Kendawangan area in 2010. Jacky was rescued from the Muara Pawan area in August 2013, Beno from the Simpang Dua area in 2015, and Oscarina was rescued from Pontianak in 2011.

The rehabilitation process is not always straightforward and can take some considerable time, depending on the circumstances and needs of the orangutan. Rehabilitation is necessary to develop the orangutan’s ability to survive in their natural habitat.

In the wild, baby orangutans will stay with their mothers until 7-8 years of age in order to learn from them. Because these baby orangutans were forcibly separated from their mothers in order to be sold as “pets,” they were deprived of the opportunity to master the necessary survival skills.

The head of the TNBBBR Center, Agung Nugroho, stated that this release was carried out through a series of activities and studies. He hopes that the orangutans will be able to form new populations and maintain the existence of their species. Last February, his party also released five other orangutans.

“All these activities and studies are carried out to ensure that all orangutans who have been released can live safely and have adequate food. When a release has been carried out, it doesn’t mean our work is done. The monitoring team will continue its work to ensure that each released orangutan can adapt to its new habitat,” said Nugroho in a statement.

It can take up to three days to reach the point of release from IAR Indonesia’s orangutan rehabilitation center. However, the status of the area as a National Park will ensure the safety of critical species.

“With the release of these five orangutans, 51 orangutans have been released in the working area of the TNBBBR Center, consisting of ten wild orangutans that have been translocated and 41 rehabilitated orangutans from the Ketapang Orangutan Conservation Centre,” said Nugroho.

“It’s time for each to learn to live side by side in harmony. Humans as creatures that are considered the smartest, have the greatest responsibility to create and maintain the harmony of nature,” said the Head of the West Kalimantan BKSDA, Sadtata Noor Adirahmanta.

This wild release program has proved so successful that three baby orangutans have been born naturally in the Bukit Baka Bukit Raya National Park area to the rehabilitated orangutans released there. The birth of a new generation of orangutans has fuelled hopes that the orangutan population in the Bukit Baka Bukit Raya National Park and in West Kalimantan will be maintained and sustainable.

Alan Knight OBE, Chief Executive of International Animal Rescue said, “It’s always a joyful occasion when orangutans are released back into their natural habitat. It gives us all hope for the future of their species, as well as for the future of the forest as a whole and for every living creature that depends on it for survival.”

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