Get ready for some fantastic news! We have started to release orangutans again. After almost one year in lockdown, we safely and successfully released ten orangutans back to the Bornean rainforest.
From our centre in Central Kalimantan, seven of them took off in a helicopter to the Bukit Batikap Protection Forest. Joining them in freedom are three orangutans from our centre in East Kalimantan, who took the flight of their life just two days later, destination Kehje Sewen Forest.
With the coronavirus pandemic still around, our main priority was and is the safety of both our staff and the orangutans in our care. Therefore, we prepared our first release with no detail left. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have implemented new strict health protocols and procedures to help curb the spread of COVID-19. “We conduct regular tests on staff to ensure that those who interact with orangutans are safe from COVID-19, as well as ensure the orangutans released from our rehabilitation centres are also healthy and free of the SARS-CoV-2 virus”, BOS Foundation CEO Jamartin Sihite emphasises.
Both release days started with the sedation and final health check of the ten orangutans. Our team then carried the soundly sleeping travellers to their transport boxes and onto a truck. From our Nyaru Menteng Rehabilitation Centre, the journey to freedom continued with the drive to the airport in Kuala Kurun, where the helicopter was waiting. Once ready for take-off, the pilot flew the seven apes directly to our release points in the heart of the Bukit Batikap Protection Forest.
Usually, it takes three days and two nights to reach the camp in the forest by car and boat. Therefore, the option of using a helicopter not just significantly cuts travel time and the need to cross human settlements; under the current circumstances, it is also much safer for our staff and the orangutans.
The release in East Kalimantan happened the day after the one in Central Kalimantan. From our Samboja Lestari Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, a team from PT. Rehabilitasi Habitat Orangutan Indonesia transported three orangutans – two males and one female – to Juq Kehje Swen Island in Muara Wahau. There, the same helicopter waited to take the precious freight nonstop to the release point on the northern side of the Kehje Sewen Forest.
With these two releases, we now have successfully reintroduced 478 orangutans into the wild. But there are many more orangutans in our care awaiting their turn to take-off for the flight of their life.
If you would like to support their journey to freedom, please visit our appeal page.
You can watch our webinar about the orangutan releases here.