Besides protecting our orangutans and staff from COVID-19, we are currently facing another challenge. Before 2020 came to an end, our team at the Samboja Lestari Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre found themselves preoccupied with an unexpected and unfortunate task: moving orangutans off several pre-release islands. The month of December saw exceptionally high rainfall levels at Samboja Lestari, which subsequently resulted in flooding and even small landslides. These landslides compromised much of the existing infrastructure around the grounds of our centre.
Among the structures impacted, several roads and bridges were damaged, cutting off important access points. The roads that lead to the Samboja Lodge and the pre-release islands were damaged but remaining passable. Damage was also sustained to the embankments of Islands 7 and 8 and the retaining wall between Islands 5 and 6.
The islands are home to orangutans who are in the last stage of their rehabilitation process, before being released to the wild. Due to the islands’ compromised containment, we had to move the orangutans back to the socialisation complex, pending the islands’ repairs. Some affected by this are Yordanka, Anthony, Leann, Andreas, Sally, Elaine, Kola-kola, Anggoro and Riana from Island 8, and Freet and Britney from Island 7.
This unexpected incident has had a significant impact on these orangutans. While used to be in open spaces, like in Forest School and on the pre-release islands, they are now forced to live in cages. We do all we can to keep them stimulated through enrichment, but this still represents a setback in their long rehabilitation progress.
Even with limited resources and time, our team has already started to repair some of the damage caused by extreme weather. Not only must we fix all that has been damaged; to prevent a repeat of this incident, we must improve and enforce the existing structures to withstand future heavy downpours and flooding.
Carrying out these repairs and construction requires a significant level of funding. With your ongoing help Yordanka, Anthony, and all of the other affected orangutans can return to their respective pre-release islands to continue with the last stage of their rehabilitation.