Orangutan Update from Tuesday 14th August

Our veterinarian, Meriam, who is currently in the field supporting the monitoring team called in with an update on how the 8 newly released orangutans were getting on. Monitoring team members Tedi, Joy and Pak Sangai had just returned from spending the night at our newly established Camp Monnu and picked up all six radio tracking signals of the orangutans released at point 1.

Meriam, Our Veterinarian

Meriam, Our Veterinarian

As mentioned in early postings orangutans are largely solitary in the wild and we therefore need to release them in different parts of the forest to avoid overcrowding and conflict. Point 1 and Camp Monnu is our second release point and as we continue to release and monitor more orangutans, we will establish more release points and small camps to enable our field teams to systematically monitor the orangutans progress.

Monitoring Team Members in Camp Monu

Monitoring Team Members at Camp Monu

So of the six signals recorded at point 1, the team saw three of the orangutans, Maradona who is still long-calling, and Onceng and Sempung who have formed a very close “courtship”. These two spent all day together, feeding and resting together in a massive nest. From the radio tracking signal direction it seems that Jessica and Sumbing may have crossed over the hill to the east.



Mama Ebol and Ebol were released close to our main camp so we could keep an watchful eye on Ebol in particular. Mama Ebol hung around for a while, but seems to have taken advantage of her newly found independence in the forest and away from her daughter, and possibly travelled.

Lovely Ebol

Lovely Ebol

The lovely Ebol has only travelled about 50-75m from the release point which is close to our helipad and is getting more confident in the forest. She is now making nests and her nest today was 30 m high. She spent the day eating rattan fruits, rattan pith and young leaves and the team are very happy with her progress. Tarzan came over to check her out and has nested nearby, she was a bit wary of him at first, especially when he long-called, but he hasn’t been too close to her.

We are keeping a careful tabs on all our orangutans movements and will keep you updated.

Orangutan Release Story from the Batikap Team

The Batikap Team shares their story (and photos) of the day of release!

All morning the cloud and fog persisted over the release location in Batikap, but our dedicated orangutan Release and Monitoring Team waited patiently from early morning in the hope that the weather would clear and the helicopters could safely bring in the newest release candidates, who were also patiently waiting in IMK for this important day to begin!

Cloudy and foggy morning in Batikap

Fortunately, around 10.25 am the cloud and fog slowly lifted. Blue sky appeared and the sunshine touched the faces of all the Batikap Team members who immediately contacted the release team in IMK by satellite phone to report that the weather conditions in Batikap had sufficiently improved. Once done, the team stood by and waited for the helicopter sling loading the first 4 orangutans to arrive.

The helicopter finally on the way to Batikap
(Photo: Rona Dennis)

At 11.40 am, the helicopter appeared from behind the hill on the north side of release location (Point 1, Camp Monnu). The helicopter circled slowly over the release point before gently setting down the first group of travel cages, containing Abam, Sempung, Jessica and Maradona. Once successfully on the ground, the team quickly but carefully unharnessed the sling and removed the travel cages.

Orangutans arrival in Batikap

Our team consisted of a trained Helicopter Landing Officer, a Veterinarian, a First Aid Officer and experienced orangutan Technicians and Monitors; safety is at the forefront of our release operations and all of our team members had clear tasks to perform during each release directed by our Camp Manager, Ahmat.


Vet Meriam opened Abam’s travel cage

Once the orangutans were safely carried away from the set down point, the helicopter flew back to IMK to collect the second orangutan group.  Over the next hour, the team carried Abam’s travel cage to his release location in the forest, a few hundred meters from helicopter landing point. Veterinarian, Meriam opened the cage, and Abam quickly ran out and climbed the nearest tree as high as he could and immediately constructed a nest. It seemed that the long trip from Nyaru Menteng to Batikap tired Abam out and he needed a nice and comfortable rest in his new home.

Sempung and Jessica

Sempung & Jessica had to travel by boat to their release points

The release of the next three orangutans Sempung, Jessica and Maradona took place across the river so first the orangutans had to be moved by boat.  Jessica and Sempung were transported in the first boat and perhaps due to the close proximity of their release points, not long after both of them were released, this orangutan couple nested in the same tree. Hopefully they will become a great couple and have sweet orangutan babies in the future!


Maradona, claiming the area as his kingdom!

Maradona, as the last orangutan to be released in this first group was released a couple of hundred meters from the point 1 landing site. Just like our other alpha male orangutans, the moment his transport cage was opened, Maradona quickly climbed the nearest tree and settled himself down in a comfortable position. Not long after, Maradona made a nice loud long call to mark his territory in his new and peaceful home.

The next 4

After the first orangutan group had been successfully released, the team waited for the arrival of Onceng, Sumbing, Ebol and Mama Ebol.

The afternoon sky was much clearer and helicopter had no problem in flying directly to Batikap. As with the first group, the process of sling loading and setting orangutans down at Point 1 went smoothly.

Lovely Onceng sat for a while on a large dead branch

Onceng was the first orangutan to be released from this second group, however because the effect of sedation and the long trip, instead of directly climbing a tree, Onceng preferred to sit down in a large dead branch below a big tree and happily ate fruits that scattered around her.

Sumbing getting ready to climb on a liana root

Next was Sumbing’s turn and once his transport cage was opened, slowly but surely he made his way to a big tree and climbed up as high as he could before taking a rest in his new wild and beautiful home.

Without hesitation, Mama Ebol climbed the nearest tree

Unlike the previous orangutans who were all released around point 1, Mama Ebol and Ebol were taken on a two-hour trip by boat before reaching their release point, close to our main camp – this was by design to enable us to keep a special eye on Ebol and Mama Ebol’s behavior. Mama Ebol was the first to be released, and without wasting a moment as soon as her travel cage was opened, she climbed to freedom up a tree in this natural jungle at heart of Borneo.

Sweet little Ebol, finally settled in a tree

Mama Ebol’s daughter, Ebol, was the last orangutan to be released. Due to her relatively young age, Ebol slowly and carefully took her first steps to climb a tree. It will take some time for Ebol to fully adapt to her new environment, since from the age of two years old she has spent her life in an enclosure under the constant supervision of her mother. We’ll be monitoring both Ebol and her mother carefully over the next months.

After another action-packed day, night-time arrived all too quickly. The third orangutan release from Nyaru Menteng had been successfully accomplished, and both the team at Batikap and the orangutans could take a well-deserved rest! It will be an early start for the team again tomorrow with the scheduled monitoring activities both of these 8 orangutans, and the 15 released earlier in the year to continue…

The Lucky 8 are Home!

The day started early in Puruk Cahu. From 7 am, bittersweet excitement was in the air. We were about to send our beloved Maradona, Sempung, Sumbing, Jessica, Abam, Onceng, Mama Ebol and Ebol on their final homebound journey!

Vet Meryl started the day by preparing anesthetics to sedate the eight orangutans. Then, darting expert, Hendro, made sure all our orangutans were prepared for transfer to their travel cages to complete the last leg of their trip.

The team took a picture before starting the day
(left to right: Hendro, Karnedianto, Iffa, Meryl, Herman, Jacqui, Widodo)


The First Group

The team aimed to keep stress to a minimum for the orangutans. Sempung was the first to be sedated, followed by Maradona, Jessica and Abam. Interestingly, Abam was the first to fall asleep! Maradona, because he was a big lad, was the hardest to sedate, but he eventually also fell asleep.

Vet Meryl Yemima preparing sedation doses

Darting expert, Hendro, sedating Sempung

In the meantime, the technicians were preparing the travel cages. By the time the first group of orangutans (Sempung, Maradona, Jessica, Abam) were sedated, all of the travel cages are ready to go, filled with comfy leaves to sleep/sit on and yummy food. Then, we carefully transferred the orangutans into each of their travel cages.

Travel cages ready to go!

The next step was loading the travel cages onto a truck. Then we were off to IMK helipad. When we arrived, the staff of IMK were seen busy cleaning and preparing the helipad. In no time, the helipad was ready, the first four travel cages had been unloaded from the truck and loaded onto the sling, and all we had to do was wait for the helicopter to arrive.

Unloading the first 4 travel cages at the IMK helipad

IMK staff preparing the helipad

Unfortunately, it was very cloudy and foggy in Batikap this morning. So the pilots decided to delay the flight. But at around 10.25 am, we received news that the sky around Batikap has started to clear up and the sun was slightly peeking through thinning moving clouds. And thus the pilots were dispatched and the helicopter was on the way to IMK.

After waiting for the weather to clear, the first 4 orangutans are loaded!

Minutes later, the helicopter landed safely at IMK helipad. The sling was checked and secured. And at 11.20, they were off! We were a bit sad to see them go, especially the lovely Maradona.

Maradona, Sempung, Jessica and Abam are off!


The Second Group

By this time, we had received some more news from Batikap that the sun was shinning and that we could go ahead and send the final four orangutans home! So back at the transit enclosures, we sedated Sumbing, Mama Ebol, Ebol and Onceng. This time, little Ebol was the first to fall asleep, and naturally, Sumbing was the last.

Sedating Sumbing

The next four travel cages were also waiting to take this second group home. And as we did before, we transferred the orangutans one by one into their travel cages.

Next 4 travel cages waiting to take our special orangutans home

Transferring Onceng into the travel cage

Maradona, Jessica, Sempung & Abam are Home!

In the midst of this preparation, we received news again from Batikap. The first group has been released successfully! Sempung and Jessica have moved off together and made nests in the same tree. Abam immediately climbed a tree and also made a nest to rest. And Maradona made a long call already, claiming the area as his new kingdom!

It was a great decision to release them at an entirely new points in Batikap – away from the first 15 orangutans – because otherwise Maradona’s long call would really annoy Tarzan and a fight could be inevitable.

The Second Group’s Departure

At the transit enclosures, all of the remaining orangutans had all been transferred into the travel cages and we were off again to IMK helipad. Once we were there, the travel cages were immediately loaded onto the sling while waiting for the helicopter to return from Batikap. The sun was bright and the weather was pleasant. We hoped that it was also pleasant in Batikap.

Starting with Onceng’s, the orangutans’ travel cages were directly loaded from the truck to the net

The helicopter finally returned and landed at IMK helipad. Again, we did final checks, ensuring the sling was secured and the orangutans were all fine inside the travel cages, then, at approximately 1.52 pm, the final helicopter took off with Onceng, Sumbing, Mama Ebol and sweet little Ebol. Tears of joy!

The helicopter just returned from Batikap and now loading the 2nd Group!

So long Sumbing, Onceng, Mama Ebol & Ebol!

Sumbing, Onceng, Mama Ebol & Ebol are Home!

It is now 4.30 pm at the Headquarters in Bogor and we are happy to report that the final group has been released in Batikap. Onceng was still a little tired from sedation when her cage was opened, but she was fine and soon climbed a tree. Sumbing was the same, still a little sedated, but recovered in no time and climbed a tree.

Mama Ebol and her daughter Ebol, still in the travel cages, were taken down river on a traditional Dayak longboat and were later released near the helipad. All orangutans are happy and healthy and are now resting. It is their first night home.

Welcome home Maradona, Jessica, Sempung, Abam,
Sumbing, Onceng, Mama Ebol and Ebol!

The Team from Nyaru Menteng were as usual, amazing! Congratulations to you all! And thanks to BHP Billiton and IMK for the wonderful support.

We will update you again with the first few adventures of our newly released orangutans once we establish further contact with the Batikap Team. Thank you for following and supporting the orangutan journey!

The Lucky 8 Settled in at Puruk Cahu


Our Senior Advisor Jacqui Sunderland-Groves reported that as of 12.30 pm all orangutans were safely transferred into their overnight transit enclosures. Vet Meryl Yemima confirms that all orangutans have all eaten and drank and have settled in well.

Sempung, Sumbing and Maradona were the first ones to be let out of their travel cages and into their overnight transit enclosures. These male adult orangutans are very big. The technicians struggled a bit. These cages together with the orangutans can weigh over 160kg each! Finally, they all settled in their individual enclosures.

Sempung entering the transit enclosure

This cage together with Sumbing inside it weighs 160 kg!

Sumbing coming out of his travel cage

Sumbing seemed quite hungry. As soon as he entered the enclosure, he ate the pineapples that had been put there by technicians before he arrived. Maradona, however, still looked a bit bored. He must be really anxious to be free in the forest! The younger orangutans, though, went straight to play, swinging happily inside each of their enclosures. Maybe they were practicing and preparing themselves to swing in the forest.

Maradona settled in his transit enclosure

The team are now busy making final preparations for tomorrow. As we write, travel cages are all being cleaned  to ensure they are ready to go early tomorrow morning.

Cleaning and preparing the travel cages for tomorrow’s final journey

We bid you good evening for now. And we will update you again tomorrow. Keep reading! And don’t forget to follow our timeline on Twitter (@bornean_ou) and/or “like” our Facebook fan page (http://www.facebook.com/BOSFoundation).

08/08: The Lucky 8 on Their Way Home!

The D-day has finally arrived! It is the lucky number 8. On the 8th day of the 8th month, 8 orangutans are returning to their rightful home in the forest!

The team at Nyaru Menteng had been awake since the crack of dawn, busy preparing and checking last minute details. The release process of Sumbing, Sempung, Jessica, Maradona, Abam, Onceng, Mama Ebol and Ebol was finally underway. At the time of this update, they have just arrived at Puruk Cahu. The first leg of their journey home has completed successfully!

Here are a few photo updates of the activities since this morning.

Nyaru Menteng special quarantine enclosures for the release candidates

The Medical Team’s preparation to sedate the 8 orangutans

The process of sedation using blow darts

Onceng, fast asleep shortly after being sedated

The Release Team, getting ready to move Maradona

Moving Sumbing into the transport cage

Suri our technician, locking the transport cages

Our Senior Advisor, Jacqui, doing the final checks

Loading the transport cages onto truck and car

Team departure from Nyaru Menteng to Tjilik Riwut Airpot in Palangka Raya

The Team arrived at Tjilik Riwut Airport in Palangka Raya, Central Kalimantan

The chartered airplane belonging to Pelita Airlines arrived at the airport at 9am

Getting ready to load the cages onto the airplane

Loading the cages onto the airplane

Inside the airplane, moments before take off

Unloading the cages at Puruk Cahu Airport

The airplane took off on time at 10 am. The flight lasted approximately one hour. And as veterinarian Meryl Yemima reported via Twitter just now, the airplane landed safely at Puruk Cahu Airport at 11am. The Team from Nyaru Menteng joined the waiting Team in Puruk Cahu and they have just started to unload the airplane.

From Puruk Cahu Airport, the lucky 8 will be transported to their transit enclosures at IMK (PT. Indo Muro Kencana). IMK has been supporting us since the first release, providing us with a secured area to build our transit enclosures where the orangutans can rest before continuing the journey to Batikap the next morning.

We will wait for further updates of this process – the process of transporting the orangutans and moving them into transit cages – from the Team in Puruk Cahu. They will also be thoroughly checked to ensure that they are all healthy and in good condition. The Team will monitor them around the clock in preparation for tomorrow’s final journey. We will report back to you later today, or follow us on Twitter (@bornean_ou) for live updates (signal permitting) from the Team!

[Press Release] Nyaru Menteng Releases 8 Orangutans

In an effort to meet the target that set by the Indonesian Orangutan Conservation Action Plan 2007-2017, BOS Foundation in Nyaru Menteng will release 8 orangutans, following 15 orangutans that have been released previously. 

Nyaru Menteng, Central Kalimantan, August 8, 2012. Eight orangutans will depart from the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Reintroduction Program to Tjilik Riwut Airport where they will be transported by airplane to Puruk Cahu. Similar with the previous releases, the eight orangutans will rest for one night in the transitory enclosures constructed in the area of ​​PT Indo Muro Kencana before departing to Bukit Batikap Protected Forest by helicopter, where they will be released on the same day.

This release will contribute towards meeting the target set by the Indonesian Orangutan Conservation Action Plan 2007-2017, which was proclaimed by the President of the Republic of Indonesia during the Climate Change Conference in Bali in 2007. In addition, this orangutan release also coincides with the finalization of the joint work plan between BOS Foundation and Murung Raya Regency Government, in order to ensure the sustainability of the orangutan conservation program in the Murung Raya Regency.

Regent of Murung Raya, Dr. Willy M. Joseph stated, “It is an effort by the Murung Raya Regency to support orangutan conservation and the plans that have been set by the government within the Indonesian Orangutan Conservation Action Plan 2007-2017, which states that all orangutans in rehabilitation centers should be returned to their habitat by 2015.”

According to the Head of Conservation and Natural Resources Authority of Central Kalimantan (BKSDA), Ir. Kholid Indarto, “The number of orangutans cared for at the reintroduction center in Central Kalimantan is still substantial. The role of the private sector, especially oil palm and mining companies, is highly expected. Oil palm and mining companies should play an active role to share responsibility for the fate of the orangutans who were displaced from forested areas due to their activities. They also must implement orangutan and wildlife protection measures in their working area. BKSDA and BOS Foundation will work together to help private sectors to protect orangutans in their concession areas through the implementation of Best Management Practice.”

Added by the CEO of BOS Foundation, Dr. Jamartin Sihite, “Close cooperation with the central government, local government and private sectors is required if we really need to reach the target of orangutan release by 2015. We have to continue to strengthen these good relations, in order to achieve our goals. ”

The BOS Foundation is very grateful for the support given by  its stakeholders, including the Ministry of Forestry, Provincial Government of Central Kalimantan, Regency of Murung Raya, Conservation and Natural Resources Authority of Central Kalimantan and the overall community of Murung Raya Regency. We kindly acknowledge the logistics and helicopter support provided by BHP Billiton and PT Indo Muro Kencana. We also acknowledge financial and moral support from other partners and various conservation organizations both companies and individuals from around the world who care about the conservation of orangutans.

Anton Nurcahyo, Nyaru Menteng Program Manager stated, “The implementation of this orangutan release, as with all our releases, will continue to adhere to the standards of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). All the released orangutans will be monitored for at least one year to ensure their ability to adapt to their new home.”

Prof. Dr. Bungaran Saragih, Chairman of BOS Foundation Board of Trustees added, “I feel very happy and sad at the same time; sad because we have to be separated with orangutans that had been under our care for a considerable time, but I am also delighted that they can finally return to their real home. Monitoring activities, which will continue for at least one year, are a vital part of our release program. We must ensure that the orangutans we are reintroducing can survive to form new, viable populations in the wild.”

There is still a considerable journey ahead to reach the target of orangutan release by 2015. Approximately 600 orangutans are awaiting release from the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Reintroduction Program. Good and generous cooperation between various parties is highly needed to achieve the goals that have been set together.


Iwan Pribadi

Communications Specialist

Email: iwan@orangutan.or.id

Monterado Friedman (Agung)

Nyaru Menteng Communications Coordinator

Email: agungm@orangutan.or.id

Successful Flyover & Preparations for Our 3rd Orangutan Release!

Successful Flyover and Preparations in Nyaru Menteng and Bukit Batikap for our 3rd Orangutan Release in Central Kalimantan

Over the last few months, our teams in Nyaru Menteng and Bukit Batikap, have been busy preparing for our third orangutan release in Central Kalimantan which will take place on 8th and 9thAugust, weather permitting!

Flying over the spectacular dense rainforest of Batikap

Following a successful helicopter flyover yesterday to survey new drop points the team have identified in Batikap, the pilots have given us the green light to go ahead. The new drop point we aim to use during this release has been selected to ensure the orangutans are released at suitable distances from orangutans released earlier this year, to avoid competition and overcrowding. A new pondok (temporary camp) is also being established there to aid our team effectively monitor the orangutans being released in that area.

On 8th August, eight orangutans (click here to view their profiles) – Sempung, Sumbing, Jessica, Maradona, Abam, Onceng, Mama Ebol and her daughter Ebol – will fly from Tjilik Riwut airport to Puruk Cahu, where they will be settled into our transit enclosures located at IMK, overnight to rest. On 9th August the orangutans will fly by helicopter to Batikap in two groups of 4 by slingload.  Teams on the ground are busy putting into place all necessary plans to ensure a safe and successful release.

Documentation Team en route to Batikap

In the meantime, the documentation team – led by our new Communications Specialist, Iwan Pribadi – departed from Nyaru Menteng yesterday morning by road. Documentation for this release is generously provided in kind by the Borneo Production International (BPI). We are very grateful for the BPI team for their support.

Traditional ferry in Sei Hanyuk

At around 2.30 pm yesterday, the team arrived at Sei Hanyuk area where they had to cross the river on a traditional ferry. A couple hours later, they were approaching the sleepy riverside village of Tumbang Lahung in the sub-regency of Permata Intan, Murung Raya. And just before dark, they finally arrived at Tumbang Lahung. The team spent a night here.

The view along the way from Sei Hanyuk to Tumbang Lahung

Arriving at Tumbang Lahung

This morning, the Documentation Team continued their journey to Batikap. The speedboat came a little late. The scheduled departure at 8am was delayed to 10am. This didn’t hinder the spirit of the team, though. They were in such high spirits as Iwan reported cheerfully on Twitter this morning.

Waiting for speedboat at Tumbang Lahung

Speedboat arrival at Tumbang Lahung

Finally, the team departed Tumbang Lahung at around 10.20am. Their first destination this morning was Batu Ampar, another small village on the banks of the mighty Barito River. This leg would last around 4-5 hours. Phone signals were still available here and there along the river, but from Batu Ampar onwards it is highly unlikely that the team would be able to report back to us. So we’re just going to tell you their itinerary.

Inside the speedboat

River view on the way from Tumbang Lahung to Batu Ampar

The team will have to stop at Batu Ampar and change their transportation mode to a 4WD jeep-like vehicle. From here, they will travel for 2 hours to a small mining transit establishment called Camp B. The road is big and properly asphalted as it is built by mining and logging companies in the area.

Switching to a 4WD from Batu Ampar to Camp B

This is what a “ces” looks like

From Camp B, they will again have to switch to a small traditional Dayak longboat, called ces (read: chess). Destination: the village of Tumbang Naan, which will take 2 hours upstream. They will make a short stop at Tumbang Naan to visit some local Dayak elders and leaders. Then, they will continue the journey for 4 hours on another ces to the village of Tumbang Tohan. This is the last human establishment on upstream Barito River and the closest one to our Monitoring Camp at Batikap. The team will likely overnight at Tumbang Tohan tonight.

The village of Tumbang Naan

This will likely be the view when the team approaches Tumbang Tohan and Batikap

Then tomorrow morning, the team will finally travel from Tumbang Tohan to our Monitoring Camp at Bukit Batikap Conservation Forest (yes, still on a ces). The last leg of the trip will take around 3 – 3.5 hours. They will join the team at Batikap and spend the whole day tomorrow surveying release points and deciding the right places to setup cameras etc. Busy, busy days ahead!

Final Preparation at Nyaru Menteng

At Nyaru Menteng, Iffa – our Assistant to the Board of Directors – and the rest of the Nyaru Menteng Communications Team led by Monterado Friedman (a.k.a. Agung) are also busy at work, tidying up the final details for tomorrow’s release. Iffa this morning visited the quarantine enclosures at a place called Midway, where the eight excited candidates await their release. When she arrived, the Release Team had just finished labeling each transport cage with the names of the release candidates.

Labeling all transport cages with names of the release candidates

Then, Iffa visited the enclosures in time for vet Riani to do final checks on Sempung. Sempung looks healthy and happy. We bet he could barely wait for tomorrow. Maradona, who was sitting in a nearby enclosure, looked a bit bored. Don’t worry, Maradona.. One more day, and we’ll take you home!

Vet Riani about to give Sempung his final health check

Maradona, looking a bit bored 🙂

Just now, Iffa visited the technicians who were busy preparing fruits and logistics to be brought tomorrow. The truck was also being washed and cleaned and prepared for tomorrow. It is frantic in Nyaru Menteng at the moment! But everyone is happy and excited.

Hendro, one of our technicians, preparing fruits for the journey tomorrow

Even the truck is being cleaned!

Homecoming Moment for Everyone!

Interestingly, though we had not planned it, this release coincides with the last couple of weeks of the Muslim fasting month Ramadhan when most people in Indonesia usually plan to return to their respective hometowns to spend the Eid Mubarak’s holiday with their families. It is a homecoming moment for Muslims in Indonesia and all over the world. So it is an honor that in the midst of this sacred homecoming moment, we have the opportunity to escort our eight orangutans back to their “hometown” – the mighty forest!

We’ll keep you updated on our progress throughout the release.