Another early start for the Orangutan Release Team in Puruk Cahu. It’s Release Day-2! At around 6.30 am, the team walked to the transit enclosures area at IMK where Anton, our Nyaru Menteng Program Manager, led them in a little prayer to start the day. The weather was on our side. It was going to be a hot, bright, sunny day.
Vet Maryos got right on the job preparing sedation doses for the semi-wild orangutans – the first eight to be transported by helicopter to the forest home today. They are Paluy, Gundul, Jamal, Mangkutub, Gusti, Iyos, Kopi and Giant. While the remaining 13 orangutans, our Forest School Graduates, will spend another night at IMK and their turn will come tomorrow.
The eight orangutans were divided into two groups today. The first group leaving this morning consisted of Paluy, Gundul, Jamal and Mangkutub. Gusti, Iyos, Kopi and Giant would go second. Jamal was the first to be sedated by senior technician Hendro who is very experienced in using the special dart equipment to sedate orangutans. Mangkutub, Gundul and Paluy were sedated next, while the travel cages were being prepared, filled with cozy leaves for them to sleep on and food just in case they woke up and got hungry on the way to the forest.
All four orangutans quickly fell asleep, were transferred into their travel cages and were loaded onto the double cab pickup for transport to the helipad where they waited for the helicopter to arrive.
Not long after, the helicopter – type Squirrel – arrived. Sling load preparation began right away. The travel cages were set on the sling load, secured properly and checked thoroughly by ground crew.
In the meantime, the second helicopter – type Bell – also arrived. This second helicopter was to carry passengers and logistics to Batikap. All passengers were requested to watch a brief video on safety regulations before boarding. The BBC film crew also joined the first team flying into Batikap today.
Just after 10 am, Paluy, Gundul, Jamal and Mangkutub departed on their final journey home, followed by the Release Team and BBC film crew on the second helicopter. The team in Puruk Cahu rested a bit before heading back to the transit enclosures to prepare the second group of the day.
Then the process repeated; Hendro sedated the next four orangutans – Gusti, Iyos, Kopi and Giant. Kopi was first to fall asleep and transferred into her travel cage, followed by Iyos and Gusti. Giant, though, took time to sleep and kept waking up! But finally he, too, was fast asleep and safely put into his travel cage.
The travel cages were again loaded onto the double cab pickup and taken to the helipad. The Squirrel helicopter landed back on the helipad in Puruk Cahu at the same time we finished all of our preparation! These next four orangutans were immediately loaded on the sling load. By 12.30 pm, Gusti, Iyos, Kopi and Giant were lifted off and on the way to their rightful home in Batikap.
The team from Batikap reported that the first group arrived safely in the forest of Batikap at 10.51 am and Paluy, Gundul, Jamal and Mangkutub have all been released successfully! The next lot arrived at 1.20 pm. As expected, Giant was still sleepy when he arrived so he was going to be released last. But after Gusti, Iyos and Kopi were released, Giant was awake and joined his friends in their new home.
The last empty travel cages arrived back in Puruk Cahu at around 2.45 pm. Release Day-2 was completed! Have a great life in the forest, you lot! We will be keeping a close eye on you to ensure you are all healthy and happy.