The Northern Star: June 19, 2012
KNOCKROW's Borneo Orangutan Survival Australia (BOSA) president Tony Gilding has described the emotional moment when he witnessed the world-first release of two endangered orangutans into the wild during his recent trip to Indonesia.
They were the first two graduates of an Orangutan Forest School where orphaned and rescued orangutans are reared by humans and taught the life skills needed to survive in their natural habitat.
Mr Gilding said the lead-up to the release in Borneo's remote protected reserve Kehje Sewen forest, was memorable of itself, involving a 35-hour trek.
"The last six hours involved river crossings by sling, an impossible walk with our luggage up steep muddy cliffs and in the final part of the journey, sitting on a 20cm wide wooden plank being bounced across treacherous crossings and all the time flicking off leeches," said Mr Gilding, who owns the Macadamia Castle.
The orangutans were transported to the release site in an Indonesian air-force helicopter to minimise their trauma.
"They just rushed out and straight up a tree which is what we wanted them to do," said Mr Gilding.
"There was not a dry eye in the jungle."
He said the orangutans were doing well and the program appeared to be a success, raising hopes for the survival of the species.
BOSA is seeking to raise $94,500 to secure the freedom of a further 10 Orangutan School graduates this year.
ACCORDING to the UN's Environmental Program, wild orangutans may be extinct within this decade if the trend in deforestation for logging, mining, settlements, palm oil plantations and cash crops continues.