Coalition’s Orangutan And Rainforest Protection Plan


Coalition’s $300,000 conservation investment would see 60 displaced orangutans released back into the wild

SEPTEMBER 3RD 2013: The Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOS) has welcomed yesterday’s announcement from Shadow Minister for Climate Action, Environment and Heritage, Greg Hunt, that a Coalition government will inject $300,000 in funding to support BOS’s Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Reintroduction Program in Kalimantan, Indonesia.  

Partnering with Melbourne Zoo, the funding will be administered through the Zoo’s international grants program to support BOS’s Nyaru Menteng facility, which works to rescue, rehabilitate and release orphaned and injured orangutans.

The Nyaru Menteng sanctuary currently holds more than 600 orangutans – a number well above the intended capacity of the centre – many of whom are waiting for adequate funding to be released back into the wild.  The promised funding will enable the release of approximately 60 orangutans back into protected Bornean rainforest, as well as 12 months of post-release monitoring.

Sharing 98 per cent of human DNA, orangutans are highly intelligent animals with the ability to think and reason. But according to the UN’s Environmental Program (UNEP), wild orangutans are at threat of extinction within this decade if the trend in deforestation for logging, mining, settlements, palm oil plantations and cash crops continues.

BOS Australia President, Tony Gilding, welcomed the commitment: “In the past year, BOS has successfully released 91 rehabilitated orangutans back into their forest home.  This funding would take the total number of released orangutans over 150, which is a very significant achievement in executing what is one of the largest and most complicated return-to-the-wild programs in conservation history.

“The return of these orangutans not only gives back the freedom that humans have snatched away from these gentle creatures, but also helps us to protect over 100,000 hectares of beautiful, natural, unspoilt rainforest for future generations,” he said.

Facilitating BOS’s innovative “Rescue and Release” program, the aim of the Nyaru Menteng sanctuary is to rescue orangutans of all ages displaced from their habitat, orphaned or held illegally in captivity as pets; and rehabilitate and release them back into protected wilderness. In addition to providing medical treatment, attentive care and meticulous training to prepare them to survive on their own in the wild, the centre also provides long term care and enrichment programs for those not fit for release due to injuries, disabilities or psychological trauma.

Situated 28 kilometres outside Palangka Raya, the capital of Central Kalimantan, the location offers untouched forest for the smallest orangutans to attend “Forest School” undisturbed, while the larger orangutans are situated on half-way islands in Rungan river, free to roam and learn important forest survival skills, about eight kilometres away.  

“Orangutans traditionally spend up to eight years with their Mums, learning all the skills they need to survive alone in the wild,” says Gilding.  “Recreating this in our sanctuaries is a painstaking process that includes teaching skills like climbing, nest-building, sourcing food and identifying threats, over a period of years, before an orangutan is deemed ready for release back into the wild. With each release costing almost $10,000 AUD, these funds would provide a huge boost in our efforts to save this amazing, threatened species,” he said.

Nyaru Menteng represents just one of BOS’s orangutan rehabilitation and forest conservation projects.

Media contact for further information, interviews with Tony Gilding, or hi res images:

Jess Keogh or Zoe Watson
Dani Lombard Public Relations
Ph: (02) 8094 9722
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Orangutans are endangered and at risk of extinction. Habitat destruction results in hundreds of orphaned orangutans, who rely on our care every year. You can help by adopting one. Their dedicated ‘nannies’ teach them everything they need to know for when it’s time to release them back to the wild. You can follow their progress through Forest School.

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