The most enjoyable experience for our Post-Release Monitoring (PRM) teams is meeting up with orangutans they have not seen for a long time.
Last week, we reported about catching up with Mona again.
But our PRM team recently met two other old friends in the Kehje Sewen Forest of East Kalimantan. The first encounter happened while hiking to Yosi’s transect, a place they hadn’t visited for about two years and one of the farthest transects from the camp.
One of the team members tried to get the attention of orangutans in the area by imitating a male’s long call and was thrilled to hear a reply shortly after.
“Hurry up! I saw an orangutan, and I don’t know who it is”, he shouted, and, without further discussion, the rest of the team rushed to get a better look at the orangutan in question. But just as they were about to take more pictures of the male, he quickly moved down a steep slope. The dangerous terrain made it impossible to keep up with him, so our technicians had no choice but to identify him from the photos taken.
The identification became more difficult than expected: The orangutan did not resemble any of the individuals recorded in the camp database. However, the photo indicated a young male who had already grown cheek pads.
Luckily, one of Samboja Lestari’s senior technicians, Imam Ghozali, was around. Thanks to his years of experience working with orangutans, he was able to identify the male as Bajuri, who we released eight years prior and last observed in 2015. No wonder our team had such a hard time recognising him!
Following the encounter with Bajuri, our technicians were eager to look for other orangutans they had not seen for a while – with success. This time, they found Casey, a female we released in 2012 and saw last in 2015.
Remnants of partially eaten papaya and an old nest brought them on the right track. The team was ecstatic to find Casey and watched her for a few moments before she descended a steep slope and disappeared.
During observations, Casey fiddled with the roots of a liana she had knotted into a ball and made a fan using dry leaves.
These two discoveries gave our team some extraordinary experiences, to meet again with two long-time residents of the Kehje Sewen Forest. Bajuri and Casey appeared to be in excellent health and thriving in the wild.
Keep exploring, team and orangutans!
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