A total of 11 orangutans aged from 8 to 24 years old were released into the wild at Batikap forest in Murung Raya district of Central Kalimantan on Saturday.
It was the second release by the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation, which was also joined by the provincial forestry agency and the local administration.
The foundation aims to return 49 orangutans to the jungle this year, foundation spokeswoman Meirini Sucahyo told BeritaSatu on Saturday.
“There are 25 orangutans left that will be released in the next months,” she said.
The Saturday release was performed by two teams. Beforehand they were tested for TB, hepatitis, HIV, herpes and other sexually transmitted diseases as a precaution. The first team transported Bang Jagur, Bunga, Kali, Mama Tata and Tata in the morning and the second team went with Ompong, Jojo, Heldi, Komeng, Yaya and Ika.
“They are all anesthetized first and transported on helicopters,” Meirini said, adding that 15 people were involved in the release.
Afterwards, the foundation tracks the animals two to three times a week in the jungle. The monitoring team will observe for behavioral changes among the primates and see how they are adapting to their new environment.
Experts say there are about 50,000 to 60,000 orangutans left in the wild, 80 percent of them in Indonesia and the rest in Malaysia. (The Orangutan Conservancy’s reseach leads us to believe those numbers are under 40,000)
They are faced with the threat of extinction from poaching and the rapid destruction of their forest habitat, driven largely by palm oil and paper plantations.
Conservationists in the region have been raising awareness about the plight of the endangered orangutans for some time.
Article by Fidelis E. Satriastanti of The Jakarta Globe/ OC edit by Tom Mills