Yesterday, on Valentine’s Day, 10 orangutans have returned to their true home in the forest of Bukit Batikap. Today, after spending two nights in the transit enclosures at PT Indo Muro Kencana (IMK), the remaining 10 orangutans namely Lesta & Lewis, Dagoy & Debby, Mogok, Isis, Mexa, James, Alibaba and Danur would finally join their friends.
A Busy Start in the Morning
Just like yesterday, the release candidates were divided into two groups. Two mother-child pairs Lesta & Lewis and Dagoy & Debby, a male orangutan named Mogok and a female, Isis, were put in Group 1. The rest were in group 2 which consisted of three males, James, Alibaba and Danur, as well as the only female orangutan in the group, Mexa. Group 2 would be released in the afternoon.
As usual, the Medical Team, veterinarians Agus Fahroni and Riani Anggun Mumpuni, began preparing sedation doses for the first group of orangutans at 6.30 AM. Lesta, Dagoy and Mogok were all sedated and transferred into their travel cages. Lesta’s and Dagoy’s babies, Lewis and Debby, did not have to be sedated not only because they are still too young, they will simply follow their mothers wherever they go, including into the travel cages.
Among the young adults in this group, only Isis who was not sedated as she strolled leisurely to her travel cage, guided by our technicians.
Heavy Rain & Fog
Unfortunately, today’s activity did not run as smoothly as the previous day. The weather was not on our side. It was raining heavily in Batikap. While in Puruk Cahu, the sky was dark and the fog was so thick that visibility was very limited.
Our team in Batikap continued to report weather condition to the team in Puruk Cahu. We couldn’t fly in that condition and had to wait for the weather to improve. Lesta & Lewis, Dagoy & Debby, Mogok and Isis who were originally planned to fly at 9 AM finally took off from Puruk Cahu at 11.30 AM.
Although the weather was not so encouraging, ultimately our friends Lesta & Lewis, Dagoy & Debby, Mogok and Isis arrived safely in their rightful forest home. They all have been released and now are enjoying their first night as free and independent orangutans. Congratulations, Lesta & Lewis, Dagoy & Debby, Mogok and Isis!
Challenges for the Second Group
While waiting for the helicopter to return to Puruk Cahu, the Medical Team started sedating the second group of orangutans, which are Mexa, James, Alibaba and Danur. These are adult orangutans with big postures. We had purposely planned to release them last so the younger and smaller orangutans could have plenty of time to adapt and establish each of their “favorite areas” before the bigger and more dominant orangutans came to join them.
The helicopter landed back at IMK helipad at 2.30 PM. Meanwhile, the team in Puruk Cahu was still communicating with the team in Batikap about current weather conditions. According to our friends in Batikap, the rain had stopped there. But in Puruk Cahu, it was just the opposite as rain started to pour. The helicopter pilot also reported that although the sky over Batikap was clearing up, it was not the case for the surrounding areas en route to Batikap, making it very dangerous to fly.
Finally, at 3.15 PM, we decided to cancel the departure of Mexa, James, Alibaba and Danur. They have to stay another night in the transit enclosures at IMK and will be flown to Batikap tomorrow.
We are hoping for friendlier weather tomorrow so release activity can resume and Mexa, James, Alibaba and Danur will be able to join their friends in the conservation forest of Bukit Batikap. We’re crossing our fingers.