Death and birth are two certain things for all living beings on earth. It is the circle of life and for every life that sadly passes, a new life is born into the world.
With deep sorrow, the BOS Foundation announces the death of Mogok, a male orangutan who was reintroduced in February 2013, into the Bukit Batikap Conservation Forest. At the same time we would like to share our happiness in welcoming a new baby orangutan who was born in September. The new baby was born to mother, Monic, who was reintroduced on February 28, 2012.
Rest In Peace, Mogok
It is with great sadness that we report the first death of a reintroduced orangutan in Batikap. Mogok passed away on 12 September after a two week battle with sickness as a result of a heavy parasite infection.
Mogok came to us as a two-year old orphan back in 2002, confiscated from a cage where he was kept by a villager. He spent time in Forest School before moving to Palas Island as a seven-year old adolescent, where he learnt how to live on his own in the forest. At the time of his release he was 14 years old and starting to mature into a big adult male. We released him into the Batikap Hill Conservation Forest in February 2013, with a group of other rehabilitated orangutans, and he seemed to be coping well with his new surroundings. He spent a lot of time with Isis, a female released together with him, and we watched him travelling through the canopy and eating a lot of different foods. The last time we followed him, recording data on his daily activities in July he was very well and we were pleased with his progress.
We went to check on Mogok in August as part of our routine observations and data collection on all reintroduced orangutans. Our assistants found him weak and barely active in a fig tree by the side of a river and immediately contacted the monitoring coordinator and vet. They observed him for a day and it was clear he was sick so the decision was made to intervene and bring him back to camp. We didn’t have a transport cage with us, but Mogok clearly knew he needed help and when his name was called he came to us and was carried back to camp in our vets arms.
Mogok had a massive threadworm (Strongyloides) infection. This worm infects both the intestines and lungs and can multiply rapidly. Although we have a full-time experienced vet on site, we reinforced the team with additional veterinary support mobilised from Nyaru Menteng, together with additional medical supplies in the event they were needed. We treated Mogok with repeated doses of antibiotics but Strongyloides can be a fatal illness in orangutans and this case was so developed, he simply couldn’t fight it off. In his weakened state he developed an airsac infection, which complicated matters and required surgery. Although at times he seemed to be improving, and despite the very best efforts of our vets, he passed away after two weeks of intensive 24 hour care.
It is extremely sad to lose an orangutan that we worked so hard to rehabilitate and return to the wild, but we were always realistic from the start that not all of our orangutans would make it – even wild orangutans die in the forest to illness or injuries. We try and give each the best chance possible, and have rigorous standards and procedures in place to ensure we can intervene as and when the need arises, but in the end much of it is up to them. In Mogok’s case the post-mortem results suggest that his illness was natural and perhaps a result of a weak immune-system. We hope that Mogok enjoyed his brief period of freedom after such a short and traumatic life and we continue to work so that his orangutan cousins in Batikap have a better fate as they continue their journey to freedom.
New Generation in Batikap
During the same month that Mogok sadly passed away, the team increased their observations and focus on Monic who was fast approaching her due date. We were somewhat anxious since the Batikap Monitoring Team had reported that since the beginning of 2013, Monic’s transmitter signals had shown that she had been moving further away from Camp Totat Jalu. For the past two or three months her signal was totally untrackable. The Monitoring Team couldn’t help grow more concerned and conducted an intensive search for this young female who was released over eighteen months ago in February 2012.
On September 25, 2013, after one month of intensive searching, the Monitoring Team finally tracked her signal around Ahmat Hill at 10:55 in the morning. The team directly located Monic who was in the middle of a newly built nest. The team waited for some time until Monic left her nest and when she did, the team could hear the small cries of a baby.
It was an amazing feeling and the team were filled with joy to see what happened right in front of their eyes. Monic came out of the nest carrying a tiny orangutan baby with the umbilical cord still attached. Monica has given birth! The baby looked healthy and cried once in a while. The babies eyes were still shut and his or her tiny hands were holding on tightly to Monic. The Monitoring Team couldn’t indentify the baby’s sex since he or she is constantly wrapped in Monic’s loving arms.
Post delivery Monic looked healthy and recovered quickly. She didn’t lose her appetite. She ate a variety of foods including banyan fruit, young leaves, rattan shoots, and barks. The new Mum never stopped nursing her baby while eating.
Monic seemed to love her baby so dearly, a few times she was spotted licking and cleaning her child. She was also very protective, making kiss-squeaks to show her displeasure at the Monitoring Teams presence. To avoid inciting any stress to Monic, the team observed her for three hours a day.
After the birth on Astrid’s baby, Astro in December 2012, Monic’s baby has added joy to the Batikap forest. Two wild orangutans have been born in their true home.
We will keep updating you with Monic and her baby when we receive more information from the Batikap Team. We hope the new mother and her baby will be blessed with a happy life. Congratulations, Monic, from the big family of the BOS Foundation!
A Full Circle of Life
A circle of life has been completed in Batikap. Mogok has left us and will be sorely missed. But two orangutan babies, children of Astrid and Monic, have graced Batikap with their births. They were born safely and will be ready to explore the forest of Batikap as true wild orangutans. Hopefully, this is a good sign that our wish will come true, to see a new wild orangutan population to thrive in their true habitat.