February 7, 2014| Orangutan Release Day 1
What a lovely morning in Nyaru Menteng! Kicking off 2014, today 12 rehabilitant orangutans from Nyaru Menteng started the journey to their real home in the Bukit Batikap Conservation Forest
Despite heavy rainfall in the area surrounding the Quarantine Enclosure in Nyaru Menteng, the orangutan release team was high in spirits, excited to start 2014 the way they ended 2013; releasing more orangutans! The first day of the orangutan releases started with the medical team’s preparation. At 4.15 in the morning the medical team and technicians gathered their equipment from the Nyaru Menteng Clinic and proceeded to the Quarantine Enclosure. It was dark and the rain was still drizzling so preparations for the tranquiliser gun and sedation doses took place under torch light. Vet Agus Fahroni coordinated the vet team who were ready to sedate the orangutans. Before starting the process, the team gathered for the final briefing and group prayer for today’s success.
Today, we were going to release 12 orangutans to Bukit Batikap Conservation Forest. They were divided into two groups; the first group consisted of Zena and her son William, Kitty and her daughter Kate, Dita and her daughter Halt, and Noor. While the second group comprised Judy and her son named Son, Hamlet, Joys, and Sarita.
Zena, William’s lovely Mother, was the first to be sedated, followed by Dita, Noor, and Kitty; the young ones William, Kate, and Halt didn’t need sedation.
Sucessfully sedated, they were carefully carried to their transport cages which had been labeled based on their passengers. Zena finally fell asleep and together with William they were the first to be moved to their transport cage. Meanwhile the effects of sedation started kicking in on Noor and she was immediately moved to her transport cage. Dita had also already fallen asleep by then and was ready to be moved. Her little daughter Halt however, was a little bit nervous when her Mother was about to be moved and ran away from her screaming. The vets and technicians tried to calm the tiny two year old. Dita was moved and tailing closely behind was technician Mulyono who was carrying Halt. The sedation worked a bit slower on Kitty. The Medical Team decided to add to the initial dose. After a while she too was finally asleep and moved to her transport cage with her daughter Kate. Just a moment before the cage door was closed, Kitty was given the anti-sedation (reversal) to wake her up.
All transport cages were delivered by truck to Tjilik Riwut airport in Palangka Raya to be flown to Beringin airport in Muara Teweh.
Meanwhile in Muara Teweh, the weather was reported clear. The team in Muara Teweh was ready to welcome the 12 orangutans from Palangka Raya. The helicopter was also ready to travel to Beringin airport to meet the orangutans as soon as they arrived.
The aircraft which would transport the orangutans had been on standby at Tjilik Riwut airport in Palangka Raya since yesterday. The truck arrived at the airport at 7 in the morning. Soon after, we received the signal to start the loading process.
This process took around ten minutes.
Then they were ready to fly!
Beringin Airport Muara Teweh
09.10, the Twin Otter airplane arrived in Beringin airport in Muara Teweh bringing its passengers Kitty and Kate, Zena and William, Dita and Halt, Noor, a representative from Cnetral Kalimantan Conservation and Natural Resources Authority, BOSF Advisor Jacqui Sunderland-Groves, Vet Agus Fahroni, and Technician and HLO Abdul Azis. The process of unloading was immediately completed, and the orangutans were checked by Vet Agus and each given milk. The cargo net was ready and the transport cages were positioned and safely wrapped in it. And off to Batikap!
Palangka Raya: Second Group Preparation
Back at the Quarantine Enclosure in Nyaru Menteng, the sedation process had commenced again, and the lucky number one was Hamlet. Sleeping Hamlet was moved to his transport cage immediately. The next one was Judy. Soon she was asleep and moved to her transport cage with her son who is conveniently called Son, holding tightly onto her belly. Handsome little Son looked a bit confused but kept his calm.
Next, Sarita was sedated and was soon sleeping peacefully. The team successfully moved her into her transport cage. Joys was the last one. She was a tough cookie and the Medical Team had to add to her sedation dose. After a long while, finally, she fell asleep and was moved into her transport cage.
After all the travel cages were loaded onto the truck, the team once again drove to the airport, this time with the second group. They arrived at Tjilik Riwut airport at 10.45 am, and coincided with the arrival of Twin Otter aircraft from Muara Teweh. The loading process took only a short time and soon all the orangutans were safely onboard.
They arrived at Beringin airport in Muara Teweh at 11.35 am. The weather was still excellent and the orangutans were unloaded as soon as the aircraft came to a standstill. The orangutans in their transport cages then waited patiently in a shady area next to the waiting room of the airport while waiting for the helicopter. All were given food and milk and continuously checked by Vet Agus and the rest of the team.
Soon the B3 helicopter arrived from Batikap. The team did a final check to ensure the safety and comfort of the orangutans during their travel, before loading the cages into the cargo net. It didn’t take long to make sure they were safely secured in the net, and the helicopter once again took off, this time carrying 5 of our beloved orangutans back to freedom.
And that’s a wrap for today. We will post a detailed update from Batikap after February 10 when the team in Batikap are back in Palangka Raya. Tomorrow we we have another exciting day of release activities planned so please make sure you follow the amazing journey of our orangutans and our team!
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 Communication Specialist).
Photos by: Paulina L. Ela, Indrayana, Untung, Meryl Yemima.