9th Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Release, Day 2: Let’s Start in East Kalimantan!

Orangutan release is never a simple thing. There are many criteria – both national and international – that we have to follow. One of them is ensuring that orangutans are released in areas of their origin, according to their sub-species. It means East Kalimantan orangutans must therefore be released in East Kalimantan. Central Kalimantan orangutans must be released in Central Kalimantan. Similarly, West Kalimantan orangutans must be released in West Kalimantan.

SaswokoFarudzInouNiken and Friska are five orangutans who were rescued and sent to our rehabilitation program at Samboja Lestari, East Kalimantan. So they grew up and were rehabilitated in East Kalimantan. However, when the time came for them to be released, DNA tests showed that they were not of East Kalimantan origin (Pongo pygmaeus morio). Instead, we found out that they are Central Kalimantan’s orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus wurmbii).

Today, in conjunction with the 9th Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Release activity in Central Kalimantan, we also translocated these five orangutans from East Kalimantan to Central Kalimantan. The cross-province translocation could be prevented if rescued orangutans are DNA-tested before deciding to place them in a specific rehabilitation center, which is the responsibility of the Conservation and Natural Resources Authority. However, due to lack of funding and also the unavailability of other rehabilitation centers at the time of their rescue, Saswoko, Farudz, Inou, Niken and Friska were immediately sent to Samboja Lestari. Being one of very few centers available since the 1990s, the BOS Foundation at Samboja Lestari have accepted orangutans rescued in places such as Java, Sumatra and even those returned from other countries. We sincerely hope this will change in the near future as cross-province translocation is costly and takes a lot of time and energy.


Samboja Lestari Program Manager Agus Irwanto assists in preparing sedation doses.

Sedating Orangutans

Nevertheless, let’s start today’s activity in East Kalimantan. At 11 am, the Medical Team got ready and went to the quarantine enclosures to start sedation on Saswoko, Farudz, Inou, Niken and Friska. Saswoko was first to be sedated, using a specialized blowpipe, by Vet Putra. While waiting for Saswoko to fall asleep, Niken was also sedated.

Next was Farudz. The big guy was naturally suspicious with what went on around him. He moved around in his enclosure and so was not easy to sedate. Vet Putra and a technician took turn trying to sedate him with the blowpipe, but several attempts failed. They managed to sedate Farudz eventually, though, and moved on to Friska, who was also alerted and kept moving around. Once, she even hid in a barrel, high up in her enclosure. But Friska, too, was finally sedated and soon fell asleep.


Saswoko was first sedated by Vet Putra.


Next sedated were Niken, Farudz, Friska and Inou.

Last but not least, Inou was sedated. By that time, the other orangutans had fallen asleep and were moved into their travel cages. Inou was last transferred into his travel cage. After ensuring that all travel cages were secured, they were loaded onto a truck. Then at 1 pm local time, the team departed to Balikpapan’s Sepinggan Airport, bringing our five orangutan friends – Saswoko, Farudz, Inou, Niken and Friska.


Moving orangutans into travel cages.


The five orangutans were loaded onto a truck.

Farewell to Our Five Furry Friends

The Team arrived at Sepinggan Airport in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, at 2.05 pm. The Hevilift Twin Otter airplane was already on standby at the airport. After taking care of administrative requirements, unloading and loading process began. The travel cages were unloaded from the truck and, one by one, the orangutans were loaded onto the airplane, starting with Niken.


Unloading travel cages from the truck.


Niken was first loaded onto the Twin Otter.

Friska, Inou and Farudz were loaded next. Then the biggest male, Saswoko, was also loaded onto the airplane at last. Vet Agnes and technician Firman boarded the airplane to accompany these five orangutans on their journey to the province of their origin, Central Kalimantan.


Loading the rest of the orangutans onto the airplane.


Vet Agnes and technician Firman accompanied the orangutans.

The Twin Otter started its engine and not long after it took off from Sepinggan Airport in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, heading to Palangka Raya, Central Kalimantan. We waved our final goodbyes to our five furry friends. From now on they will be in the loving care of our team in Nyaru Menteng and will undergo an adjustment period and a final pre-release process in Central Kalimantan. Farewell Saswoko, Farudz, Inou, Niken and Friska!


The Twin Otter took off to Central Kalimantan.

Welcome Back in Central Kalimantan!

The Twin Otter carrying the five orangutans from Samboja Lestari landed safely at 4.42 pm at Tjilik Riwut Airport, Palangka Raya, Central Kalimantan. The Nyaru Menteng Team had been looking forward to the arrival of Farudz and his friends ever since the Samboja Lestari Team reported that these five had taken off from Balikpapan. Shortly after the airplane landed, we immediately unloaded the travel cages from it.


Unloading Saswoko’s Travel Cage From The Twin Otter


Followed By Farudz, Inou, Friska, and Niken

Saswoko’s travel cage was the first to be unloaded, followed by the travel cages of his friends, Farudz, Inou, Friska and Niken. While the unloading the travel cages, vet Agnes representing Samboja Lestari also officially handed over the orangutans from Samboja Lestari to Nyaru Menteng, represented by Denny Kurniawan in his capacity as Nyaru Menteng Program Manager.


Hand-over of The Orangutans From Samboja Lestari to Nyaru Menteng

All five orangutans were then taken to the Quarantine Enclosure – Midway II, where they will stay before being transferred to Palas 2 Island. At the moment, the team in Nyaru Menteng is planning to build a barrier to isolate Palas 2 Island. After this plan is realized, these orangutans can be moved there and get a chance to adjust to the forest of Central Kalimantan, which is topographically different than forests in East Kalimantan.

Also staying in the Quarantine Enclosure – Midway II are Cici, Donna Karen, Roma and Marwoko, who were translocated from Samboja Lestari to Nyaru Menteng in November 2013. They, too, will be moved to Palas 2 Island with their five friends who just arrived this afternoon.

Upon arrival at Quarantine Enclosure – Midway II, Farudz was immediately transferred into his enclosure, followed by Friska, Inou, Saswoko and Niken. After living in East Kalimantan for so long, they are finally back in Central Kalimantan where they originally came from. All they have to do now is to wait for the island to be ready as a place for them to learn and explore. Welcome back in Central Kalimantan, Farudz, Saswoko, Inou, Friska and Niken!

All the Orangutans Were Transferred Into Their Enclosures


Orangutan release activities are very costly. Help us send more orangutans home by donating at http://donation.orangutan.or.id.


Text By: Rini Sucahyo & Monica Devi Krisnasari

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