Choki and Friends Take Released Orangutan Total to 345

This week, BOS Foundation worked in cooperation with the East Kalimantan BKSDA to release five more orangutans to the Kehje Sewen Forest, in East Kalimantan. This brought the number of orangutans released to the Kehje Sewen Forest to 91, and the total number orangutans released by BOS Foundation since 2012 to 345 individuals! The latest group to return home to the forest included one male, Julien, and four females; Choki, Cheryl, Erina, and Nicola.

Release Happens After Special Holiday

Dark clouds lingered on the morning of 25 June, as we began sedating the release candidates in preparation for their final journey to freedom. The unexpectedly gloomy weather failed to dampen our spirits, as many of BOS Foundation team were feeling refreshed after enjoying the Muslim holiday, Eid al-Fitr, last week.

Once the team sedated all five orangutans, they carefully moved them to individual transportation cages. The release team departed from Samboja Lestari just before 2 p.m., and headed directly to the East Kalimantan BKSDA office in Samarinda for a press conference and to obtain official government permission for the release. Orangutans legally belong to the government, and therefore, every effort relating to the conservation of this important species must be carried out with the government’s consent.

Orangutan health checks prior to departure

The road trip took around 12 hours, with regular stops every two hours to ensure that the orangutans were doing okay.

The team departs for Muara Wahau

The team reached Selabing village in Muara Wahau, in the early hours of the following day. Muara Wahau, the town nearest to the Kehje Sewen Forest, houses a small dormitory office constructed by BOS Foundation and PT. RHOI. The team stopped at the office to rest for a couple of hours and wait for sunrise. At break of dawn, the team set off for the last point accessible by vehicle. After a long, 17-hour car ride, the cages were carried by ces (a type of local motor boat) across the Telen River, which acts as a natural boundary separating the Kehje Sewen Forest from adjacent areas.

The team takes the cages across the Telen River by ces

On the other side of the river, porters and technicians were on standby to help carry the cages straight to the release points.

Cages carried to release points

Choki Returns Home!

For Choki, a 7-year-old female in the release group, this would be the freedom she had long waited for. Choki was rescued in early 2016, arriving at Samboja Lestari Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre in severe condition. She was malnourished, infected with worms, and had a serious machete wound on her forehead. Actually, her wound is the reason she was later given the name Choki – from the Indonesian word bacok, which means to ‘hack’. Our medical and babysitter teams provided round-the-clock care and treatment to ensure that Choki fully recovered. She was not able to be placed in Forest School, however, due to her wild behaviour. After two years of rehabilitation, Choki was more than ready to return home to the wild.

Choki, then and now

On 26 June, at around 1.30 p.m, BOS Foundation headquarters received the news that everyone had been waiting for, that all five orangutans had been successfully released to the wild and were finally free!

Ir. Krisdiyanto (representative of the East Kalimantan BKSDA) opens Nicola’s cage

Choki and company enjoy their freedom

Our Post-Release Monitoring team is standing by in the forest to conduct daily monitoring and observations on these released orangutans over the coming weeks. All five orangutans will be tracked daily; from the moment they leave their nests in the mornings, until they settle in to rest at night. This is to ensure that our released orangutans are making good use of their survival skills and behaviours to thrive in the wild Kehje Sewen Forest.

Stay tuned – we will return with stories on their progress soon!

Text by: BOS Foundation Communication Team

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