A happy ending for orangutans Bulu, Jo and Abdul

BOS Foundation: Bogor, West Java, October 18, 2010

The uncertainty is finally over for three homeless orangutans which had been thrown into a limbo of bureaucratic delay and become the centre of an international controversy. They are now in the care of the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF) at a special facility following their transfer from an Indonesian government holding compound. The release had been held up for several days while plans were made to accommodate their needs in the new location.

The three orangutans include 1 year-old Bulu, who was found on a palm oil plantation in Sebulu; Jo, who is approximately 6 years old, appears to have been kept as a pet but whose place of origin is yet to be determined; and Abdul, who is around 3-4 years old and also with a clouded history. Bulu has been at the Indonesian Natural Resources Conservation Board (BKSDA) centre for only about a week while Abdul and Jo have been there 3-4 months while an investigation is made into their history.

On October 16, 2010, a BOSF team met with government officials to ensure the transfer could taken place and legal documents were ready. The three orangutans were then transported to Halfway House, around 23km from Samboja Lestari for medical evaluation. Jo and Abdul have already been put into their separate enclosures and Bulu is in the care of a babysitter.

BOSF had been criticised for failing to immediately rescue the three orangutans from the BKSDA shelter. In a press release, BOSF CEO E. G. Togu Manurung, Ph.D. explained that while the team was assembled and standing by since last week, BOSF could not intervene without government permission and permits.  The orangutans are the property of the Indonesian government and BOSF works closely with the authorities in the goal to rehabilitate and release all ex-captive orangutans.

“We have worked for a long time with BOS Foundation in solving the problems associated with captive orangutans. The BOS Foundation has been very helpful to us in addressing these problems,” said Kuspriyadi Sulstiyo, the Head of BKSDA for East Kalimantan.

BOSF is an NGO that is world-renowned for its work in rehabilitating born-in-the-wild ex-captive orangutans and releasing them back to the wild. In April and June of this year, BOSF took in eight orangutan babies that had been confiscated by BKSDA.

Currently, however, the two BOSF reintroduction centres are full of rehabilitated orangutans awaiting release next year. The two centres are under strict quarantine due to the necessity to keep all rehabilitated orangutans free from diseases such as TB and Hepatitis, which are endemic amongst the country’s orangutan population.

“The three orangutans received from the BKSDA Sunday will be housed outside the Samboja Lestari facility but close enough for medical personnel and caretakers to provide the best possible care”, said Togu, Ph.D., noting that any intake of new orangutans at this time could jeopardize the safety of the overall release program. The intake of new orangutans also creates funding problems for BOSF, which relies on a network of foreign donors to support its release activities.
 
"We know that this is really the responsibility of the government, but we also know that the government is not financially able to take care of the potentially hundreds of stray orangutans that are confiscated by them from illegal traders, palm oil plantations and logging concessions," explained Togu, Ph.D. He added "We call on all stakeholders concerned with orangutan survival to work together to solve these issues. If we cannot do that, what hope is there for the future of the species?"