A quick blog to let you know about a very good day. But first the background. About a month or so ago we removed some illegal loggers from the Mangkong River and subsequently we built the guard post there – the post which flooded.
I accompanied a follow-up patrol to make sure there was no more logging taking place upstream. Well there was definitely no logging but, even better, we found what appeared to be an ideal orangutan release site (see photos below). I won’t bore you with all the factors that come into play when choosing a release site but suffice it to say “location, location, location” isn’t everything! You have to have forest, access and a clearing for the buildings plus a few other things. Anyway, we saw this site and all said “perfect”.
The Patrol Team, who monitor illegal activities, are seperate to the Camp's staff, who monitor the released orangutans in Lamandau and they are separate again from the staff at the Orangutan Care Centre Quarantine (OCCQ) where the orangutans start the rehabilitation process. One of my jobs is to try to integrate all the different branches of our operations, so last week I went back up the Mangkong with Mr Tigor, the Camp's Manager, a couple of his staff and staff from the OCCQ.
Foremost among the OCCQ staff was Mr. Sehat, he is someone I truely admire and he has an absolutely magical way with orangutans. At the OCCQ he is the "dominant male" – bar none. I once watched an orangutan trying to wrestle a tub of fruit from one of the other assistants. Mr. Sehat happened to be walking past. Immediately, the orangutan let go, sat down meekly and gratefully accepted his allotted share. There is no force or aggression in his manner, it is simply will power and years and years of experience. Sehat once carried a sub-adult male weighing some 70 kg (154 lbs) from his enclosure to a traveling crate just so the orangutan would not have to be anesthetized.
Photo taken of Mr Sehat on an earlier orangutan release.
To continue, if Mr. Sehat agrees with something we know it has to be alright and he took one look at the selected site and asked grinning, “Why haven’t we found this place before?”. Ukim, one of the other assistants, sized it up perfectly – and with the brevity typical of a Dayak. He looked around and said simply “it’s never been burnt”. Fires destroy the natural seed bank in the soil (rainforest trees are not adapted to cope with fire). Even if an area has been logged it will recover but once it is burnt, recovery will be much, much slower. Mr Tigor was equally enthusiastic and he had even started pacing the layout of the new site. For my part, it was reassuring to know that everyone was in agreement, this was a perfect release site. You can expect to hear more about the Mangkong Camp and the orangutans, who will make their home there, in the future!