One of the skills the Post-Release Monitoring (PRM) team members learn when working in the Kehje Sewen Forest is the ability to fire a tranquiliser gun and become jungle sharpshooters. All of them must possess this skill to support the veterinarians if they need to anaesthetise an orangutan in the forest. The PRM team also uses manual blowguns that are fired by a quick and strong exhale of one’s breath, as these are traditional weapons of the local Dayak people.
Blowguns are long, narrow tubes that a tranquiliser dart can be loaded into and then launched using a forced exhalation. The team uses blowguns for targets that are at close range. For targets further away, they use air rifles, charged with controlled air pressure, to avoid causing excessive physical damage to the orangutans. When tranquilising an orangutan with either a blowgun or airgun, the shooter aims for the arms, legs, and fatty areas on the back: you must never aim for the front of an orangutan’s body, as this could injure their vital organs.
Recently, our PRM team held a competition to see who was the most skilled blowgun and airgun operator. This activity was both an exercise and a test.
The competition started with preparing equipment – airguns, blowguns, and practice targets. Then, staff member Vet Mutia reviewed the procedures for proper usage of the guns and outlined the competition rules. Then, taking turns, our team members shot at the targets to collect points. It was a lively atmosphere, with the entire team cheering every time a fellow teammate shot a high point on the board.
The winner was PRM team member Yunus J, who obtained a high score of 32. In second place was Emen, with a score of 29, followed by Rofinus in third place, with a score of 27.
Good job, guys, for keeping our orangutans safe while preparing them for necessary medical procedures!