This is the second day of our 2 cross-province transfers and 2 back to back releases and the first day of operations where we reintroduced eight orangutans into the wild in the Bukit Batikap Conservation Forest (Batikap). These eight orangutans were first transported by truck from Nyaru Menteng to Tjilik Riwut Airport in Palangka Raya, where they continued their journey on a fixed-wing airplane to Mt. Muro Airport in Dirung, Murung Raya Regency. From Dirung, a helicopter transported them to Batikap, where they were finally able to breathe true freedom in natural habitat.
It was only 4.30 in the morning and the day was still dark, but the Orangutan Release team in Nyaru Menteng was already in high spirits to start the first day of the 7th orangutan reintroduction activities. The medical team was on stand by at Midway 2 Quarantine Complex, ready to sedate the orangutan release candidates who were leaving for their true home in Batikap later today. Eight orangutans would be flown to Batikap. Cindy and her children Cilik and Riwut, and Mandra, were on the first flight group. Nopi and her children Zona and Nicky, and Daisy would be flown on the second flight.
Cilik, a six year old male orangutan, was the first to be sedated today, followed by Cindy, his mother. Riwut, Cindy’s baby is only one year old and always holds tight to Cindy meaning she did not have to be sedated. While waiting for the sedation to work on both of them, the team checked on Mandra and decided that she also didn’t need any sedation. The technicians walked her into her travel cage without too much trouble.
It took longer than expected for the sedation to work on Cilik and Cindy, and both required a slightly topped up dose. After a while, Cilik finally fell asleep. After being given his final de-worming shot, he went into his travel cage and just before the door was closed, he received a sedation reversal. A little while late, super mum Cindy also fell asleep. She was moved into her travel cage with little Riwut clinging tightly onto her belly, looking a bit confused but calm.
With the first group all ready on the truck, the Team left Nyaru Menteng for Tjilik Riwut Airport in Palangka Raya, where a Twin Otter airplane was waiting for them to transport them to Mt. Muro Airport in Dirung, Murung Raya Regency.
We arrived at the airport at 6.45 am, and while waiting for loading time, we had our breakfast together. Nothing tastes better than when eating together with your lovely team mates!
10 minutes later, we received the cue that we could start loading the orangutans into the Twin Otter. Cindy and Riwut were loaded first, followed by Mandra and Cilik. The process was smooth and took less than ten minutes to load them all on the plane.
Cindy, Riwut, Cilik, and Mandra were accompanied to Dirung by Vet Maryos, technician Hendra, and Imam Mustafa, a ranger official from the Central Kalimantan Conservation and Natural Resources Authority. The airplane finally took off at 7.25 am, after the crew completed all the technical preparations.
Mt. Muro, Dirung: Halfway Home
Since last night, rain had fallen in Dirung and stopped only when dawn broke. The sky cleared as if it felt the joy of welcoming the orangutans who were coming back to their true home in the Bukit Batikap Conservation Forest.
The Orangutan Release Team in Dirung also coordinated with the Batikap Team, and received news that rain was also falling heavily in Batikap and had done so allnight. As the day became lighter, the sky in Batikap also cleared and brought us hope that today’s activities would go well.
Last Journey towards their True Home
At 08. 12 am, the Twin Otter airplane arrived at Mt. Muro Airport in Dirung carrying Mandra and Cindy and both her children, Riwut and Cilik who were accompanied by Vet Maryos, technician Hendra, and a representative from Central Kalimantan BKSDA.
Cilik was the first to be unloaded from the plane, followed by Mandra, Cindy and Riwut. The orangutans were welcomed by the Murung Raya Regency Head of Forestry Department, Ir. Pahala Budiawan, MM. The four orangutans were immediately brought to the helipad, to wait for the arrival of the B3 helicopter which would take them back to their home in Batikap.
Soon, the helicopter arrived and the four orangutans were ready to be flown to Batikap. Cilik looked impatient and shook his travel cage, maybe he just couldn’t wait to be free in the forest!
Palangka Raya: Preparing the Second Group
Meanwhile, the truck was already on the way back to Midway 2 in Nyaru Menteng to pick up Daisy, Nopi, Nicky and Zona. The sedation activities for Group 2 in Midway 2 were already underway. Daisy, however, was the first to get into the travel cage, as just like Mandra, she was willing to walk with the familiar technicians with a little persuasion and without sedation. Zona, was the next to fall asleep and be moved into her travel cage.
Apparently, Zona and Nopi, Nicky’s mother, couldn’t fall asleep peacefully because Nicky, the playful three year old little boy kept bothering his mother! At 8.30 am, Nopi was finally asleep and could be moved into her travel cage, while little Nicky was carried by a vet and a technician into his mother’s travel cage.
8.35 am, the Team left Nyaru Menteng with the second and last group of the day. Meanwhile in Tjilik Riwut Airport, the Twin Otter arrived from Dirung at 9.18 am, almost at the same time as the arrival of the Team to the airport. The first to be loaded into the airplane was Zona, followed by Daisy, and the last were Nopi and Nicky. The process, just like the previous group, was also carried out smoothly.
After the loading was completed, CEO of the BOS Foundation, Jamartin Sihite and the Head of Central Kalimantan Conservation and Natural Resources Authority Ir. Hariyadi gave a press conference to the attending reporters. At 10 am, Nopi, Nicky, Zona, and Daisy were flying on their way to Mt. Muro Airport in Dirung.
Second Group Arrival in Mt. Muro, Dirung
At 10. 43 am, the Twin Otter arrived one more time at Mt. Muro Airport carrying Daisy, Nopi, and Nopi’s two children Zona and Nicky. The clear weather also welcomed the group. They were brought to the helipad while the Twin Otter prepared to go back to Tjilik Riwut airport in Palangka Raya.
Daisy and Nopi’s little family were loaded into the cargo net. While waiting for the helicopter to arrive from Batikap, the top of the travel cages was covered by canvas to protect the orangutans from the heat.
Finally the helicopter arrived! The team made all the final preparations and inspections of Daisy and Nopi’s family to ensure their safety during the journey. Just like Cilik, Zona was very enthusiastic and busy making kiss-squeak sounds. Soon, Zona, you will enjoy the freedom of your true home in Batikap, along with your mother and sibling, and your other friends!
Tomorrow we will update you on the story from Batikap which closes the day, and we will also have nine more orangutans being reintroduced into Batikap, and the cross-province release of Yayang, Sayang, and Diah.
Orangutan release activities – especially cross-province activities – are very costly. Help us send more orangutans home by donating at http://orangutan.or.id/donate.
Text by: Paulina L. Ela (BOSF Communications Specialist) & Media Romadona (BOSF Communications Officer).
Photos by: Paulina L. Ela, Media Romadona, Melissa, Indrayana, Anton Nurcahyo, Merryl.