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.


2 thoughts on “Successful Flyover & Preparations for Our 3rd Orangutan Release!

  1. What a journey ahead for these lucky Orangutans!Stunning scenery,lush forests-FREEDOM!How wonderful,they are going to have the time of their lives & I can’t wait to see how they get on!Fantastic,fantastic,fantastic!All the hard work is coming to fruition and it is just so worth it!This is what it is all about!:) .Thank you so much for giving these lovely,beautiful Orangutans their lives back-where they belong-home in THEIR forest!!!!!!!!!!SO HAPPY 😀

  2. Pingback: Successful Flyover & Preparations for Our 3rd Orangutan Release … | Our Endangered Planet and it's Wildlife.

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