Once released to the wild, rehabilitated orangutans are monitored closely for a certain period of time by our post-release monitoring (PRM) team, which collects behavioural data during daily observations. Totti, one of the more-recently released orangutans in the Kehje Sewen Forest, East Kalimantan, is still being tracked daily by our PRM team in ‘nest-to-nest’ observations.

A few days ago, our PRM team from Nles Mamse Camp in the Kehje Sewen Forest set out early in the morning to monitor 12-year-old Totti. Based on observational data from the previous day, the team were able to quickly locate Totti not far from the banks of the Telen River. He was spotted dangling in the thick canopy above with a female orangutan who was released the very same day as him; Sakura.

Encounter with an Old Friend

After spending some time with Sakura, Totti soon turned his attention to the food available nearby: etlingera shoots, bunches of forest fruits, and bark. After filling his tummy, he brachiated through the trees. At one point, we saw him move quicker, and noticed there was another orangutan close by. It was Derek: A male orangutan who had lived on Juq Kehje Swen Island the same time as Totti, during their pre-release stage of rehabilitation.

Derek saw Totti coming in his direction, and the two quickly came face to face in what appeared to be a standoff. Just when it looked as though Derek and Totti were about to take each other on, they ran at each other only to hug and celebrate their meeting. The two then became engrossed in a sort of communication only they could understand. Totty showed Derek the leeches stuck to his arms, and Derek quickly plucked them off his friend’s skin. Totti then hugged Derek, as if thanking him for his assistance. The two spent some time together before finally giving each other a final hug and going their separate ways.

Derek and Totti


Totti the Water-Loving Explorer

Totti then went to the river bank to have a drink and eat some liana bark. He sat on a fallen tree trunk for a while to enjoy the view and sound of the water racing downstream. He then moved around the rocks and fallen trees up to the edge of the trail and climbed back up a tree to rest.

Totti sits on a fallen tree trunk


Half an hour was more than enough time for Totti to recharge. He then continued to explore the forest canopy, criss-crossing the treetops and briefly stopping a few times along the way to eat ficus fruits. The team were forced to trudge up and down hilly, rattan-filled terrain to follow and not lose sight of him.

Finally, Totty stopped to fill up on forest food before the day turned dark. At around 7 p.m. – which is considered quite late in the evening for orangutans to settled down for the night – Totty started building his night nest. It only took him 10 minutes to complete, and he quickly jumped in to call it a day. Relieved, we contacted our boatman to pick us up and head back to camp.

It is fantastic to see how much at home Totti already feels in the Kehje Sewen Forest. We hope that other released orangutans can thrive and live as happily as Totti is in his new home.

Text by: PRM team in Camp Nles Mamse, Kehje Sewen Forest

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