BOS Foundation assists BKSDA on Gundul's case

BOS Foundation: October 19, 2012: Tenggarong, East Kalimantan.

On Thursday October 18, 2012, the Borneo Orangutan Survival (BOS) Foundation was requested by the East Kalimantan Conservation and Natural Resources Authority (BKSDA) to provide medical services, health checks and blood sampling at the East Kalimantan BKSDA Office in Samarinda for one adult female orangutan who had just been rescued by BKSDA.

Gundul when she first arrived at the office of Conservation and Natural Resources Authority (BKSDA) in Samarinda, East Kalimantan

The female orangutan named Gundul who we were previously informed to be 21 years old had recently become a hot topic on various channels of internet-based social media. It was reported that the orangutan was kept in dreadful condition and chained by her owner near a dumpster in a village in Samarinda. It was also stated that Gundul suffered from malnutrition because she was not fed properly and was often seen scavenging the nearby dumpster.

Based on that information, BKSDA followed up by rescuing Gundul and planned to later submit her to a conservation agency in West Kutai Regency, PT. Satwa Gunung Bayan Lestari (SGBL). But considering the long trip to West Kutai that would take around 7-8 hours, BKSDA decided to first transport Gundul to the office of BKSDA Area II in Tenggarong where she could rest overnight and her health could be fully assessed.

Transit enclosures at BKSDA Area II Tenggarong Office where Gundul (left) and Joko (ringt) spent one night last night

This morning, Friday October 19, 2012, the BOS Foundation Medical Team led by veterinarian Agus Irwanto conducted a thorough medical examination on Gundul. After she was sedated, vet Irwanto checked her teeth to determine Gundul’s age. Her upper teeth showed M2 formation, whilst her lower teeth showed M3 formation. “M2 and M3 refer to the order molar teeth start growing. M2 formation indicates an age of 7 years and above, and M3 indicates an age of 13 years and above,” explained vet Agus. “So based on the combination of these two formations, Gundul is estimated to be only around 12-13 years old.”

Dental check on Gundul to determine her age

Thorough health check results also show that thankfully Gundul is in good health. She is not malnourished and her hair is also in a good condition. The BOS Foundation Medical Team did find light traces indicating that she had been chained. However, she could not have been chained tightly and it seems that she had only been chained recently, not over a long period of time. She is emotionally stable, she is not aggressive and does not show signs of trauma. Although the BOS Foundation do not condone the chaining of orangutans in any situation, we are relieved that her condition was not as serious as reported.

Mr. Ahmad Rivai who led the BKSDA Team today confirmed, “When we rescued Gundul yesterday, we did find her on a long, loose chain which actually allowed her to run around. In fact, when we arrived at the location, she was playing in a tree.” This may explain why Gundul showed some signs of stress when she was transferred into the transit enclosure in Tenggarong, as she is not used to being in an enclosed space.

Health check on Gundul by BOSF Medical Team

This morning at around 8.30am local time, the BKSDA Team departed for West Kutai to deliver Gundul to SGBL. The BOS Foundation Medical Team is requested to accompany the BKSDA Team. Additionally, the BOS Foundation is also providing transportation and logistics for the orangutan. The BOS Foundation will equip both the BKSDA Team and SGBL with animal welfare procedures, especially designed to accommodate orangutan welfare.

Gundul (left) and Joko (right) ready to be delivered to a conservation organization in West Kutai, PT Satwa Gunung Bayan Lestari

In response to this event, the BOS Foundation CEO, Dr. Jamartin Sihite commented, “As an organization struggling to rehabilitate orangutans and return them to their natural habitat, the BOS Foundation has never even thought of ignoring orangutans who are victimized by human-ape conflicts and are waiting to be rescued.”

“However,” Dr. Sihite continued, “We must also be honest about our ability and capacity, which currently are stretched to the maximum in terms of enclosure availability, human resources, as well as funding and many other factors. Forcing ourselves to rescue and take in an orangutan when these are the circumstances will compromise the welfare of the entire orangutan population currently under our care.”

Two BOS Foundation rehabilitation centers – Samboja Lestari in East Kalimantan and Nyaru Menteng in Central Kalimantan – currently care for and rehabilitate a total of 850 orangutans with the final aim to release them in their natural habitat in a secure forest.

Furthermore, the government of Indonesia has also set a target for rehabilitation centers in Indonesia to release all of the release-able orangutans under their care by 2015. A target that appears difficult to achieve if the number of orangutans victimized by human-ape conflicts continues and exceeds rehabilitation centers’ ability to accommodate, rehabilitate and release them.

In addition to delivering Gundul, BKSDA also rescued a healthy young male orangutan found in Sebulu, named Joko. He is estimated to be around 5-6 years old and together with Gundul will be delivered to SGBL.