Foundation Establishes an Orangutan Conservation Area on Salat Island

BOS Foundation: November 3, 2016
Following a long process to secure the rights to utilize parts of Salat Island in Pulang Pisau Regency, Central Kalimantan, the Borneo Orangutan Survival (BOS) Foundation in collaboration with the local community have been granted permission to establish an orangutan conservation area on Salat Island, whilst also protecting the environmental services rendered by this essential ecosystem. To commence this important initiative the BOS Foundation is releasing 12 rehabilitated orangutans on to Salat Island where they can complete their final pre-release learning.

Nyaru Menteng, Central Kalimantan, 3 November 2016. The BOS Foundation in Nyaru Menteng (Nyaru Menteng) is currently rehabilitating around 500 orphaned or displaced orangutans through confiscations and rescues working together with the Central Kalimantan Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA). These orangutans are undergoing a lengthy process of rehabilitation before they can be released back to their natural habitat. The rehabilitation process can take seven years. It starts in Baby School and works up through different levels, much like a human school system, until the orangutans are ready for final reintroduction to natural habitat. The last part of this rehabilitation process needs to take place on natural islands where the orangutans have the opportunity to live in an environment similar to their natural habitat in the forest, but where their adaptation can be adequately monitored to ensure they are ready for reintroduction.

The ideal current carrying capacity in Nyaru Menteng is 300 orangutans, whilst we are caring for almost 500. A large majority of these orangutans are ready to embark on the final pre-release stage, however the three existing pre-release islands located in the Rungan River managed by Nyaru Menteng, have reached full carrying capacity. The BOS Foundation therefore needs a new area of land specifically to cater for the final pre-release stage orangutans. There are around 60 orangutans who have finished rehabilitation within BOS Foundation Forest Schools and ready for the next stage, with more than a hundred queuing behind them.

In total, Salat Island, which is located in Pulang Pisau Regency of Central Kalimantan, covers 3,419 hectares and of this the BOS Foundation has acquired 655 hecards. Salat Nusa island has suitable intact natural forest, is islolated from the mainland all year-round, has no wild orangutan population, supports sufficient orangutan foods and adequate carrying capacity to support large numbers of orangutans as they adapt to life back in the forest.

The agreement between BOS Foundation and the government of Central Kalimantan Province related to orangutan and habitat conservation in Central Kalimantan states that the BOS Foundation working area comprises the entire Central Kalimantan Province. As agreed upon between BOS Foundation, Central Kalimantan BKSDA and the government of Pulang Pisau Regency, the parties will work together to reintroduce as many rehabilitated orangutans as feasible. In order to prepare them, a pre-release forest area that can support the final important process of their rehabilitation is needed. Badak Kecil and Badak Besar islands of Salat Island can support this and will significantly help accelerate the whole process of orangutan reintroduction. Carrying capacity of these two islands are estimated at 100-200 orangutans. These areas also have the potential to become a long-term sanctuary for orangutans, which are unreleasable due to injury, but who also deserve to live freely in an area which can be easily monitored. Through partnership with PT Sawit Sumbermas Sarana (SSMS), a palm oil producing company group, this area has been extended to more than 2,000 hectares in total.

The BOS Foundation is willing to establish a cooperation with companies that demonstrate strong commitments and responsibilities towards orangutan conservation and the environmentn and PT SSMS has proven their determination towards achieving this goal.

BOS Foundation CEO, Dr. Ir. Jamartin Sihite said, “We still have obligations to fullfil the Indonesian Orangutan Conservation Stratetgy and Action Plan which states that by 2015, there should be no orangutans within rehabilitation centers. We are still facing difficulties with the huge number of orangutans in our rehabilitation centers, both those individuals who are ready for reintroducion, and both need forest areas similar to natural habitat. Cages, however comfortable and well-facilitated, are no place for them to live. BOS Foundation therefore strives to place orangutans cared for within  our rehabilitation programs into suitable areas, especially in natural habitat with sufficient food availability, no competition from wild orangutans, and safe from possible future exploitation. Salat is ideal according to our surveys, and the BOS Foundation calls to all environmental stakeholders, the government, private sector and organizations to place emphasis on commitment and support of orangutan and habitat conservation for collective benefits.”

Vallauthan Subraminam, President Director of PT Sawit Sumbermas Sarana Tbk., said, “We are a company who put the highest regards and committed to plantation management based on principles on sustainable management which is also described as one of the company’s principles, case for the environment. We realize the importance of habitat and ecosystem conservation efforts. We therefore strongly support the BOS Foundation to prepare an area with conditions similar to the orangutans’ natural habitat as a sanctuary for orangutans ready for reintroduction to the forest, and for those unreasable orangutans. By providing an additional area of 1,434 hectare of Salat Island to add to the area already acqurired by BOS Foundation in the same region, we are more than ready to provide our solid cooperation in this initiative and and work together with other stakeholders. We want to show that a sustainable business can work hand in hand with conservation efforts for the benefit of all. In the future, we even plan to develop this area into a tourist destination, and provide a better livelihood for the community.”

Salat island is considered suitable as an Essential Ecosystem Area; it comprises a wetland ecosystem, in this case, the river which serves important environmental functions to both local biodiversity and human lives, including watershed protection, reducing the risk of floods, etc.,

H. Sugianto Sabran, Governor of Central Kalimantan fully supports the initiative and said, “the Government of Central Kalimantan greatly welcomes the effort and actions taken by the BOS Foundation to establish cooperations with other stakeholders, in this case, from the private sector, in conserving orangutans and their habitat. As governor, I fully pledge my support on this monumental cooperation. Environmental conservation is a collective effort and this is particularly a special moment for us to follow up. The degree of forest destruction we experienced last year through fire was significant, we now face a great task ahead; that is to rehabilite, conserve, and protect the remaining forest areas along with its biodiversity within.”

H. Eddy Pratowo, S.E., M.M., Pulang Pisau Regent asserted, “the Pulang Pisau Regent is in full support of orangutan conservation as this protected rare species has been an eternal part of our lives in Central Kalimantan. We appreciate the effort taken by BOS Foundation and PT SSMS to conserve this essential area and involve participation of the people of Pulang Pisau in the process of orangutan and habitat conservation. I and the entire staff of Regency Office offer our full Avallauyhan Sunrminum, Predient dierisupport towards this utilization of Salat island.”

The establishment of this orangutan conservation area is testament to positive co-operation between the BOS Foundation and other stakeholders, namely the government of Central Kalimantan Province, government of Pulang Pisau Regency, Central Kalimantan BKSDA, and the people of Jabiren Raya Sub-District who are concerned with Indonesian orangutan conservation. The BOS Foundation also expresses gratitude for the support by PT Sawit Sumbermas Sarana and our global partners including John Cochrane from Australia, BOS Australia, BOS Germany, BOS Switzerland and World Animal Protection (WAP) who have generously funded this extremely important initiative.

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