Pre-release islands are the university for our rehabilitated orangutans. Before their release to the wild, every Forest School graduate has to prove and hone their learned skills on one of our human-made islands.
As a forested environment secure from logging activities and other forms of exploitation, pre-release islands serve not only as a protection area for orangutans but also many other wildlife species. That’s why our team sometimes supports important activities like the Asian Waterbird Census (AWC).
The AWC is a voluntary network-based activity that is part of the International Waterbird Census. The census is critical as it aids in the development of conservation strategies for waterbirds and wetlands. With the help of the obtained data and information, experts determine the status of global waterbird populations and use the results as a reference in area management planning.
Recently our technicians completed the AWC 2021 survey on Juq Kehje Swen (‘Orangutan Island’ in the local Wehea Dayak language). Naturally sandwiched between the Melenyu and Wahau Rivers, Juq Kehje Swen is an ideal habitat for waterbirds with abundant food sources, perfect resting places and breeding grounds.
During three weeks, our team observed 30 species at six different locations along the banks of the two rivers surrounding the island, with five open-field locations. Several of the species are protected or endangered, and many are unique and elusive, including the storm’s stork (Ciconia stormi), oriental darter (Anhinga melanogaster), stork-billed kingfisher (Pelargopsis capensis), rhinoceros hornbill (Buceros rhinoceros), wreathed hornbill (Aceros undulatus), wrinkled hornbill (Aceros corrugatus) and Bulwer’s pheasant (Lophura bulweri).
The discovery of these rare bird species thrilled and motivated our team members, as their presence is a sign of how precious our pre-release islands are – for orangutans and all flora and fauna around them.