Who remembers Petto? We have missed him since our Post-Release Monitoring (PRM) team from the Himba Pambelum Monitoring Camp in Bukit Baka Bukit Raya National Park Area, Central Kalimantan, last encountered him in August 2022.
Now, about a year later, they finally spotted Petto again near the Rangan Nongai area, known for its unique formation of rocks visible whenever the river water recedes. He was sitting on a branch of a Keruing tree (Dipterocarpus retusus) around 11 to 15 meters above ground level.
At first glance, the rangers could see his physical condition was very good, and they observed that he was still highly active. Throughout the day, they watched as Petto foraged for bamboo shoots, Ketepeng leaves (Senna alata), rattan piths, and orchids. The team also saw him devouring ants and termites. Petto’s comprehensive diet demonstrates his healthy, extensive range of food preferences.
Petto is keeping a distance
In addition to observing him eating, the rangers spotted Petto creating nests, making vocalisations, and keeping a distance from his observers. His behaviour has grown wilder over the past year, as he repeatedly took to the ground to show his aggressive nature by shaking trees. Fortunately, the team could back off, so Petto returned to the woods and eventually lost sight of our team.
Petto was a calm orangutan before his release, normally unbothered by human presence. However, this recent encounter with him has shown the PRM team that if free and given a choice, Petto is an orangutan who has accepted his solitary nature and no longer wishes for human contact. Wild orangutans establish home ranges that they will defend from others, and to see Petto fully embracing a wilder disposition in the forest brings us true joy.
A challenging place to survive
This experience also serves as an important reminder that, although human contact is unavoidable during rehabilitation, orangutans are still wild animals who belong in their natural habitat, where they should not be disturbed by humans. In such a challenging place to survive, this behaviour allows them to live successfully in the wild, give birth to the next generation, and support the healthy functioning of these critical tropical ecosystems.
Besides Petto, about 400 individual orangutans are awaiting release in our Central and East Kalimantan rehabilitation centres. Adopting one of them is a great way to support them and follow every stage of their rehabilitation journey to freedom.