The long-awaited day finally arrived! For the first time ever, 13 of Nyaru Menteng’s rehabilitated orangutans – the Forest School graduates – returned to the rainforest canopy where they belong.
Emen and her son Embong, Sif and her daughter Sifa, Gadis and her daughter Garu, Leonora and her son Lamar, Chanel and her son Charlie, as well as three lads Menteng, Jamiat and Terusan embarked on the momentous homecoming journey to the forest.
Just like yesterday, these release candidates were also divided into two groups – 4 travel cages per group. Mother with child shared the same travel cage, while the three males were in individual travel cages. The first group to return home were Emen and Embong, Leonora and Lamar, Chanel and Charlie, and Terusan. The second group consisted of Sif and Sifa, Gadis and Garu, Menteng, and Jamiat. And we were blessed again with clear sky and bright sunshine today!
At 6.30 am, the Orangutan Release Team started preparing travel cages, sedation doses, and other details such as truck, helicopter schedule etc. Having sedated Chanel, Charlie was desperate to wake up his mom. So light sedation was also given to Charlie to calm him down, after which he tucked himself in tightly to his mom’s body. Then as Charlie holding on to his mom, they were both gently carried to their travel cage.
Luckily baby Embong was not so worried. He simply held on tightly to his sedated mom Emen as they were moved to their travel cage. Young lad Terusan was also sedated and soon transferred into his travel cage.
Unlike the others, Leonora seemed to sense where she was going and so she coolly came out of her transit enclosure without making a fuss. She did not even have to be sedated. Carrying her son Lamar, she allowed herself to be calmly led by hand to the travel cage. Leonora was amazing!
Having transferred the first group of orangutans into their travel cages, they were loaded onto a truck and taken to the helipad. At the helipad, Vet Meriam and her team regularly checked the orangutans’ conditions while waiting for the helicopters to arrive.
The Squirrel helicopter designated to carry the orangutans on sling load landed in Puruk Cahu at 8.30 am. And the Bell helicopter for bringing passengers and logistics into the forest soon followed and arrived at 8.55 am.
Sling load net was immediately set up and all travel cages were loaded and secured, closely supervised by Loadmaster John. And at around 9.40 am, the first group of Nyaru Menteng’s Forest School graduates were off!
Returning to the transit enclosures at IMK, vet Meriam yet again prepared sedation doses for the second and final group of orangutans. Jamiat and Menteng were first to be darted, followed by Gadis. Sif was the last sedated.
Once Sif fell asleep, just like Chanel’s son Charlie, Sif’s daughter Sifa was not too happy about that. Displaying typical wild orangutan behavior, Sifa made fierce kiss-squeaking sounds as the technicians approached her. So vet Meriam also gave her light sedation.
Then, the team began moving the orangutans from their transit enclosures into each of their travel cages. Menteng was the last transferred into his travel cage. The process of loading them all onto a truck was not easy. This lot was heavy!
But we finally managed to load the travel cages safely and we were off to the helipad again, waiting for the helicopter to return from Batikap. The Squirrel helicopter arrived at 11.30 am. Once it was refueled, the team set the net and loaded the travel cages onto the sling load.
At exactly 12 noon, the helicopter took off again bringing home the final group of Nyaru Menteng’s first ever forest school graduates!
At 2 pm, the helicopter was back in Puruk Cahu with the last four empty travel cages. The Batikap Team reported that all 13 of our rehabilitants have been released! Have a great canopy life, our dear friends! We are still here watching over you to make sure you are all well and content in your rightful forest kingdom.
The 4th Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Release activity has ended on a high note, bringing the total number of released orangutans from Nyaru Menteng to 44. Thank you all so much for your support, contribution and participation. Watch this space for more updates from the Bukit Batikap Conservation Forest and follow our Twitter to catch up with other things that we’re doing for our lovely brothers and sisters of the forest.
A collection of photos from the 4th Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Release activity can also be enjoyed on our Facebook page. And the complete story of the past three days will soon be posted on our website, too. We bid you farewell for now but will be back in the next few days with updates!