World Environment Day Marked with the Release of Five Orangutans

8 June 2016: BOS Foundation

On May 27, the BOSF Orangutan Reintroduction Program from Samboja Lestari released five orangutans to the Kehje Sewen Forest in the East Kutai and Kutai Kertanegara Regencies of East Kalimantan. Through this release event we celebrate World Environment Day, which takes place on June 5.

The release was officiated with a press conference held at Samboja Lodge and attended by the BOS Foundation’s CEO, Dr. Ir. Jamartin Sihite together with the Head of the East Kalimantan BKSDA, Ir. Sunandar Trigunajasa N; the GM of PT Pupuk Kaltim, Nur Sahid; a representative from BOS Switzerland, Elisabeth Labes; and Ari Kusuma Dewa from PT Total I&E Endonesie – all of whom who have kindly supported our work.


Back at the Samboja Lestari clinic, our technicians were making final checks on the transport cages and our medical team was preparing medical supplies and equipment needed for transporting the orangutans from Samboja Lestari to their final release points in the forest.



After the press conference, our guests symbolically ‘released’ the orangutans.


Preparations at Samboja Lestari

During all of our release events we strive to ensure the process is as smooth as possible for the orangutans and all five orangutans were sedated in the Forest School 2 area prior to being transferred to their respective transport cages. Raymond was first, followed by Gadis, Angely, Hope and then Kenji.


This process was completed by 3 p.m., and the team then waited for all of the orangutans to wake from sedation as it is not safe to transport them whilst asleep. Our team need to be satisfied each orangutan has recovered with no ill effects and is able to sit up well.

Once all were awake the five cages were loaded onto a waiting truck near the clinic.


Welcome to the Wild!

The convoy, which consisted of five double-cabined utility vehicles and one truck, travelled along a road that passed by Samarinda, Sangatta and Bontang, and finally to Muara Wahau. The team stopped every two hours throughout the 12-hour trip to check on the orangutans.


At Muara Wahau, the last town stop, the team took a break and regrouped before continuing on to the edge of the Kehje Sewen Forest – a 5-hour ride from Muara Wahau.

The rocky road that led to the Kehje Sewen Forest proved more difficult to navigate than expected. We had to leave one double-cabin utility behind that was unable to traverse the steep hill.


When we arrived at the end of the road, where vehicles can go no further, a waiting group of local Dayak Wehea traditional dancers performed a ritual called “Tel kiak tloh jiep seak lekok”, which means “Welcoming ritual of safety and friendship with the Borneo Wehea universe”. Our group included several international partner members, who were delighted by this warm welcome.


Following the ritual, the team carried the cages down a steep 200-metre trail to the banks of the Telen River, then crossed the waters and headed to the release points.

Negotiating the forest took some time, and the team were finally able to set the cages down and open them by 3 p.m. that day.


Our Post-Release Monitoring (PRM) team begun observing and taking notes on the orangutans and their activities immediately following their release, and kept doing so until the five started to build their night nests. Later that night, our PRM team happily reported that Angely, Hope, Gadis, Raymond and Kenji appeared to be adapting to their new environment and had been observed foraging. It was great to hear that the five were already enjoying forest food.

We hope Angely, Hope, Gadis, Raymond and Kenji enjoy their freedom and continue to thrive in their new home – in the safety of Kehje Sewen Forest.