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…


6 thoughts on “Orangutan Release Story from the Batikap Team

  1. Pingback: Orangutan Release Story from the Batikap Team | Going Back to the … | Our Endangered Planet and it's Wildlife.

  2. I’ve been waiting for this wonderful update all week!So worth the wait-these beautiful apes have come home!Lovely Abam straight up a tree & making a nest,Lovebirds(hopefully) Jessica & Sempung nesting together & Magnificent Maradona long calling high up in HIS forest!So natural,but who would have imagined this could be really happening?Then the arrival of the final four,Oceng,how sweet under a tree enjoying forest fruits,happy Sumbing high up in his nest & then the beautiful Mama Ebol straight up a tree with cautious daughter Ebol nearby.This wonderful release has made me so happy & I cannot wait for the next chapter in these lucky Orangutans lives.Thank you again for this release,your hard work,determination & devotion shines through………………WONDERFUL 😀

  3. Pingback: The Telegraph | TemuKonco

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