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!


18 thoughts on “The Lucky 8 are Home!

  1. I am sobbing with delight!So wonderful,this lovely group have found themselves their own bits of the forest!I am elated!Thank you all so much for recording this epic adventure-I can’t wait to see the programme on the BBC.Wonderful work,dedication & love for these apes that you have nurtured for so long-sad to say goodbye but So Happy they are now free.Wonderful Twitter posts too-well done everyone involved!You are all absolutely FANTASTIC! 😀

  2. Absolutely wonderful news!! Well done to you all!,
    And a huge thankyou for posting the news!!
    Welcome to your new home Orangutans!!
    With very best wishes to you all,
    Jessamy xxxx

  3. So pleased to hear that all went well. Look forward to updates. My appreciation and admiration for the teams responsible for this important move.

  4. Not wishing to sound too impatient,but when can we expect the next updates?Are the monitoring team staying nearby for a while or have they left to return at a later date?

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