Rescue

Orangutan Foundation Welcomes New Arrival

In September 2015, Central Kalimantan was hit by major forest fires. Many orangutans needed rescuing from areas of burning forest and community land.

One such orangutan was Vania, a 29 year old female orangutan, named after a student who was doing research on orangutans in the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve at the time. Vania and her 6 year old offspring (named Venty) were rescued from an oil palm plantation and released by Camp Buluh in the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve.

Both are now in good health and are still frequently seen in the area. As shared yesterday, field staff have informed us that Vania gave birth on 25th May to an infant they have named Volvo.

 

Vania has been seen around camp since the birth to show off her new arrival.

Welcome Volvo to the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve!

Would you like to play an active part in the protection of Volvo's tropical forest home?

Become a guardian of Lamandau and help us ensure a future for orangutans, forests and people. Click here for more information.

The Lamandau Wildlife Reserve

We are delighted to be able to convey the news that two of our soft-release orangutans, Jessica and Ketty, have now been released into the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve. Staff are confident both will go on to living fulfilling lives in the wild, free from the threat of habitat loss.

In light of this positive news and #RainforestLive, we are introducing a new initiative in support of the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve.

Become a guardian and actively protect:

  • 158,144 acres of tropical peat forest in Central Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo
  • 500 critically endangered orangutans - a number which continues to increase as more are rescued and released
  • thousands of threatened species including gibbons, sun bears and clouded leopards
  • 5 million tonnes of stored carbon.

A regular gift of £16.50 a month or a one-off donation of £200 for the year (the equivalent of 55p a day) will contribute towards the management of the Reserve.

Visit our webpage for more information on how to become a guardian.

Meet Our Soft-Release Orangutans - Part 3

In this blog entry we focus on Camp Rasak, where orangutans in the final stage of the soft-release programme before their release into the wild are monitored. The Lamandau Wildlife Reserve in Indonesian Borneo is a protected reintroduction site, where rescued orangutans can be released safely.

From this Reserve we run our Soft-Release Programme for rescued orangutans too young to return to this wild. Watch this short clip to find out how this programme equips these orangutans for a life in the forest:

Reintroduction Camps

There are 5 Camps located in Lamandau:

Depending on the age and development of the orangutan they are placed into one of the camps which is best suited for their needs. Camp staff monitor all rescued orangutans.

Currently we have 10 orangutans within our soft-release programme.

Meet the orangutans being cared for at Camp Rasak…

Endut

Endut is a 3 year old male who was rescued last March, named after his rather round belly. Endut is improving his climbing skills and has become much braver in the past couple of months, but is still has a way to go in order to be ready for release.

Ketty

Daughter of Korin, a reintroduced orangutan who inhabited the forest around Camp Gemini. Korin sadly disappeared in 2013 and Ketty was found alone. Since joining the Programme Ketty has come along in leaps and bounds, or should we say, climbs and swings!

At 5 years of age,she's always displayed skills more advanced than the orangutans being cared for alongside her, which is likely a result of spending some time with her mother in her early years.

Jessica

Jessica was rescued from a local town where she was being kept as a pet in 2016. In spite of this she retained her natural instincts well and didn't take long to adapt to life in the trees. At 5 years of age, she is advanced in her progress, displaying excellent survival skills.

What Next…?

After keeping a close watch on Ketty and Jessica, staff are now confident that they have the skills required to live in the wild: nest-building, finding food, and climbing to the top of the canopy.

The Soft-Release Programme exists within the same area of forest where orangutans are released. As past experience has shown, once released orangutans are often seen in the forest around camp so we are able to continue to keep a watchful eye on them.

Following release, orangutans are monitored for two weeks so that staff can ensure they are adapting well to living independently. Once released, we hope all will go on to live fulfilling lives in the wild, away from the threat of habitat loss and human activity.

Next week we follow the release of Ketty and Jessica!

Support our Soft-Release Programme and adopt an orangutan today.

All proceeds from our Adoption Scheme go towards medical treatment, food and care of these orangutans during their time in soft-release.

The Orangutan Foundation's 5 Programmes in Indonesian Borneo

Watch this short video to learn about our 5 ongoing programmes in Indonesian Borneo:

Please help us ensure a future for orangutans, forests and people. To support our work with a donation, please click here.

Thank you.

Meet our Soft-Release Orangutans - Part 2

In this blog post we focus on Camp Buluh, where orangutans in the intermediate stage between being very young and those soon to be released fully into the wild are cared for. The Lamandau Wildlife Reserve in Indonesian Borneo is a protected reintroduction site, where rescued orangutans can be released safely.

From this Reserve we run our Soft-Release Programme for rescued orangutans too young to return to this wild. Watch this short clip to find out how this programme equips these orangutans for a life in the forest:

Reintroduction Camps

There are 5 Camps located in Lamandau:

From our 5 reintroduction camps staff monitor all rescued and rehabilitated orangutans. Depending on the age and development of the orangutan they are placed into one of the camps which is best suited for their needs.

Currently we have 10 orangutans within our soft-release programme.

Meet the orangutans being cared for at Camp Buluh…

Okto

Okto is perhaps the most notorious of the orangutans currently in our care! Starring in Sky 1 and Offspring Film’s “Monkeys – An Amazing Animal Family” and the face of our Adoption Scheme; Okto is a confident yet mischievous 5 year old male.

Shifa

Shifa is a female orangutan who was rescued in September 2016 after being kept as a pet for about a year. She initially had problems with hair loss, possibly as a result of stress, but is being treated by the Foundation’s vet and has visibly improved.

 

Support our Soft-Release Programme and adopt Okto today.

All proceeds from our Adoption Scheme go towards medical treatment, food and care of these orangutans as they grow and develop.

Meet Our Soft-Release Orangutans - Part 1

The Lamandau Wildlife Reserve in Indonesian Borneo is a protected reintroduction site, where rescued orangutans can be released safely. From this Reserve we run our Soft-Release Programme for rescued orangutans too young to return to this wild. Watch this short clip to find out how this programme equips these orangutans for a life in the forest:

Reintroduction Camps

There are 5 Camps located in Lamandau:

These camps monitor all rescued and rehabilitated orangutans. Depending on the age and development of the orangutan they are placed into one of the camps which is best suited for their needs.

Currently we have 10 orangutans within our soft-release programme.

Camp JL is where the very youngest orangutans are placed.

Meet Timtom

Timtom was just nine months old when she was rescued last January. Not surprisingly, she was not too confident at first as at this age she should still be in the care of her mother, but has now begun to show great improvement. Once cautious, she now climbs happily to the top of a tree.

Meet Mona

Mona is a female orangutan, just 2 years old. She was recently rescued in March 2017 from a family in a local village who were keeping her as a pet.  With no mother she looks to Nyunyu for company, who was rescued around the same time.

Meet Nyunyu

Nyunyu, female around 3 years old. She displays more wild behaviour than Mona, despite being kept as a pet for about 2 years. She was found tied up in a garden, but now shows her adventurous side when climbing.

Meet Boy

Boy is the most recent orangutan to join the Programme, a male aged about 3 years. He had been kept as a pet for 3 months and was given up by locals of a nearby village.

Another young orangutan is being cared for at Camp Siswoyo.

Meet Satria

Satria is a male orangutan rescued last June, around 2 and a half years old. He has now started foraging, but is still very young and has a lot to learn.

Next week we look forward to introducing you to more of our soft-release orangutans!

Momong - Sun Bear Rescue

On Thursday, 26 January 2017, Orangutan Foundation field staff responded to a call about a sun bear being kept as a pet in a local town. Upon arrival, field staff met with the owner of the sun bear, which had been named Momong, to carry out the rescue. Momong turned out to be a young female sun bear of around 2 years old. Momong had been kept as a pet for just under a year, but despite being deprived of natural sources of food, the Foundation’s vet determined that she was in reasonably healthy condition.

Momong was taken to Camp JL in the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve, Indonesian Borneo - where after careful monitoring and assessment to check she was ready, she was released. As proven with previous translocations, sun bears can wreak havoc around camp, and Momong was no different! The following week after release Momong kept trying to return to Camp JL, damaging camp facilities in the process.

The decision was made to recapture Momong and to release her 1km away from camp to prevent her returning, and encourage Momong to integrate back into the forest where she belongs.

Field staff are pleased to report the second release has been successful.

Watch footage of Momong’s release:

You can support our Animal Rescue and Release Programme here.

Thank you.

Orangutan Foundation

 

Orangutan, Aan, to remain permanently blind despite expert’s best efforts to restore sight.

Orangutan, Aan, who was blinded after being shot 104 times with an air rifle, underwent surgery a few days ago to remove a cataract, which was probably caused by this trauma. Claudia Hartley, an ophthalmic surgeon, led the British team of experts, including John Lewis, one of the UK’s leading wildlife veterinarians. Post operation, initial signs were promising and the eye looked clear and healthy.

However, it is now thought that the optic nerve must have suffered irreparable damage, when she was shot, which wasn’t detectable before the surgery. The Orangutan Foundation’s vet has been monitoring Aan’s progress and is saddened to report that she isn’t showing signs of any vision.

Orangutan Foundation is hugely disappointed and we know our members and supporters will be too. The focus is on Aan’s long-term care and welfare as she will never be suitable for release back into the wild. Orangutans can live well into their forties, Aan is thought to be around 14 to 15 years old.

Thank you to every one for their support.

Saltwater crocodile and kite translocated to safety

Here is a blog post by Azhari Purbatrapsila, the Orangutan Foundation's Reintroduction Manager. But, as you will see, it is not just orangutans that the Orangutan Foundation rescue and release. On 12 January 2017, I and Jakir (Forest Patrol Manager)  translocated one saltwater crocodile and one black-winged kite to the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve, Central Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. Translocation was done together with SKW II BKSDA Kalteng (Indonesian Nature Conservation Agency). The crocodile is about 1 meter in length and is in a healthy condition.

Unlike the crocodile, the kite was not in a good condition. It looks like the kite was kept in a small cage so its wings are really weak. Although its wing are full (no missing feathers), some of the feathers are not in good shape. The kite and the crocodile were handed over from the community.

After confirmation of the translocation, we left the Orangutan Foundation office at 10am and went to the BKSDA office to pick up BKSDA staff and the animals. We drove to the speedboat jetty and went directly by boat to Camp Buluh, within the Reserve.

Firstly, we released the crocodile,  which swam away from us before it dived into the river and wasn't seen again.

After, we released the kite onto a tree which is usually used by soft-release orangutans who are learning to climb.

After several minutes of staying on the branch, the kite tried to fly. Unfortunately, the kite unable to fly properly and it fell into the swamp water next to the camp building.

We decided to put the kite in an empty orangutan enclosure and let the camp staff take care of it until its healthy and strong enough and can fly. Hopefully the kite's condition will improve quickly so it can be released and be wild again. We will keep you updated.

Thank you,

Azhari

Orangutan Foundation

 

Orangutan Foundation: 2016 in pictures and numbers. A huge thank you for your support.

6,000 wild Bornean orangutans live in the Belantikan region. The largest population outside of a protected area. Orangutan Foundation actively engages key stakeholders to conserve this critical tropical forest ecosystem.
 

The Belantikan Forest.

33 wild orangutans rescued. One particularly poignant rescue was Narti, who was found completely stranded, clinging to the burnt remnants of a tree surrounded by oil palms.

Narti was found completely stranded.

 
36 rescues of other wildlife species. All released into the safety of the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve.

A Brahminy Kite rescued by the Foundation.

        

A sunbear pictured shortly after release.

 

A slow loris rescued by Foundation staff.

 

16,000 Ubar tree seedlings nurtured and planted to restore areas of the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve damaged by forest fires in 2015.

A nursery worker tending to seedlings.

 
One new patron. Patrick Aryee and Offspring Films visited our work in Borneo to film for “Monkeys: An Amazing Animal Family”, a three-part series which first aired on Sky 1, on Christmas day. Star of the show, was Okto who was charmed by Patrick’s presenting skills!

Okto, our adoption star!

 

Foundation Director Ashley Leiman with Orangutan Foundation Patron Patrick Aryee.

 
Eight volunteers and one new guard post. In July, the construction of Guard Post 25 began. Now up and running, this guard post is critical for the protection of the new 8,000 hectare extension of the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve.

2016 Volunteers.

The newly completed guard post 25.

Our 25th anniversary year saw the opening of Tanjung Harapan’s Information Centre, in Tanjung Tanjung Puting National Park. Renovated by our 2015 volunteers and designed by the Cube in Residence Programme.

Cutting the ribbon to mark the opening of the Information Centre.

 

Orangutan Foundation Director Ashley Leiman with the administrative head of Tanjung Puting National Park.

 

Visitors taking in the exhibits in the Information Centre

104 air rifle pellets were found in lodged in orangutan Aan, 32 of which in her head left her blind, in 2012. In October 2016, ophthalmic surgeon, Claudia Hartley, visited Aan to assess the permanence of her blindness. 
 

Aan, found blinded by air rifle pellets.

What a wonderful start to 2017 to have the chance to restore Aan's sight. Claudia Hartley will be returning the to field with her team and specialist equipment in February to remove a cataract, currently affecting Aan's vision in her one remaining eye.
DONATE NOW to help us to raise £2000 to fund this vital operation to give Aan a second chance in the wild.

Brahminy kites, Bornean sun bears and orangutans...

Blogpost by Steven Daud, Orangutan Foundation vet, in Central Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. Yesterday, 14 December 2016, we go by speedboat to the Camp Siswoyo and Camp Buluh, in Lamandu Wildlife Reserve, as part of our regular visits.  First, we stopped at the Post Teringin Lama to check on a Brahminy kite, named Jack. He was obtained from citizens in Sampit. Jack came to us with many missing wing feathers so Jack cannot fly far away.

Jack, the brahminy kite, has started to fly short distances and now roosts in the trees.

Because of that, we decided to put Jack at Guard Post Teringin Lama and the staff at the Post have responsibility of taking care of Jack. At first, Jack only at around the Post jetty, but now Jack seen already getting used to roost in the forest near the Post.

After Post Teringin Lama, we went to Release Camp Siswoyo for checking the latest condition of Bruno and Satria. Bruno is a Bornean sun bear and already in Camp Siswoyo since October and seemed to have a skin problem, but due to treatment it’s much better.

Bornean sun bear, Bruno

Satria is an orangutan undergoing soft release. Rescued in June and is about 2 and ½ years old and he is in a healthy condition and doing well. To stop infection by the parasite, I give anti-parasitic drugs to prevent transmission of disease, which I suspect comes from Bearded Pig.

Young Bornean male orangutan

 

Here is a video of two other young orangutans, Jessica and Timtom, in our soft-release programme, made by Azhari, our Orangutan Reintroduction manager.

 

Thank you,

Steven - Orangutan Foundation vet

Please support our work in returning these critically endangered orangutans and other wildlife species back to the wild, where they belong. Click to donate.

Thank you.

 

 

Wonderful images of young Bornean orangutans learning to survive in the wild

Here’s another field update, with some wonderful images, from Orangutan Foundation vet Steven Daud, on some of the younger orangutans in the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve, Indonesian Borneo.   A couple of days ago, we made our routine health and monitoring visits to Camp Rasak and Camp JL, two orangutan release camps, within the Wildlife Reserve. This journey is by speedboat as the camps can only be accessed by river.

Our first stop was Camp Rasak, where orangutans Jessica, Timtom and Endut live. These orangutans are on a soft-release programme.

Young rescued Bornean orangutans Timtom and Endut, being taken out of their enclosure to play in the forest. © Orangutan Foundation

We took Jessica, Timtom and Endut out from their enclosure so they can learn to make a nest and play in the trees. Jessica’s ability to make the nest is clearly visible. While Timtom and Endut are seen to be very brave exploring the trees, where they hone their skills of survival.

Every-which-way hips. Timtom making use of her arboreal adaptations! © Orangutan Foundation

Young Bornean orangutan, Endut, learning to survive in the wild. © Orangutan Foundation

Young Bornean orangutan, Jessica. December 2016. © Orangutan Foundation

Nowadays, the weather is unpredictable which has caused Timtom to catch a cold. We are giving Timtom vitamin supplements and medication to help her get healthy again.

Timtom, young Bornean orangutan receiving treatment for a cold. © Orangutan Foundation

After Camp Rasak we got back into the speedboat and went to camp JL to monitor Okto and Ketty.  Before orangutans can be fully released back into the wild they must be able to make a nest to sleep in. Ketty has shown that she can make a nest. However, Okto still has difficulty with this skill and sometimes even tries to interrupt Ketty's nest-building.

Young Bornean orangutan, Ketty. Learning to survive in the wild. © Orangutan Foundation

Vet with young Bornean orangutan, Okto. December 2016. © Orangutan Foundation

Bornean orangutan, Okto, playing in the trees.© Orangutan Foundation

 

Orangutan Foundation vet treating Okto and Ketty.  © Orangutan Foundation

In terms of health, Okto and Ketty are both in good condition and this is maintained by giving them vitamin supplements. To minimise disease transmission between the orangutans and humans, staff in contact with the orangutans must wear gloves and masks.

I hope you enjoy the photos.

Regards,

Steven (Orangutan Foundation Vet)

As always, we are immensely grateful to the Orangutan Foundation staff in Indonesia for their hard work and commitment. You can support this work by Adopting Okto (a unique Christmas present of real value) by visiting our online shop. There are plenty of other wonderful Christmas present ideas too.  Last day for ordering before Christmas is Friday 16th December.  Thank you.

Orangutan Foundation vet - infant orangutan's inflamed air sacs

Blogpost by Dr Steven, the Orangutan Foundation's vet. I went to Camp Rasak, in the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve (Indonesian Borneo) to check the condition of infant orangutan Ariel. Camp staff were concerned and had reported seeing Ariel with enlarged air sacs around his throat.  Ariel is Acuy's son and aged about 22 months.

Infant Bornean orangutan Ariel, showing the inflamed air sacs around his throat.

We arrived by speedboat and immediately began our search for Acuy and Ariel.

Adult female orangutan Acuy with infant Ariel and their 'adopted' orangutan companion, Kotim.

 

 

Dr Steven preparing the anaesthetic .

Once located we had to first anaesthetise Acuy, using a blowpipe and anaesthetic dart. After Acuy was sedated, Camp staff helped hold Ariel so he could be further examined.

Darting adult female orangutan Acuy in order to examine her son, Ariel.

I give a with very low dose of anaesthetic to Ariel because he was stressed. After Ariel calmed, I start taking samples in the neck area. It turns out there’s no fluid, which indicates the absence of bacterial infection and it only contained air.

Examining and treating infant Borneo orangutan, Ariel.

After that, I take blood samples, give vitamin injection and de-worming drugs to Ariel and Acuy.

Treating adult Bornean orangutan, Acuy with de-worming medication.

Monitoring is conducted periodically and on a recent routine visit to Camp Rasak I was pleased to see Ariel already doesn’t have any enlargement of air sacs around the neck.

Acuy and Ariel, fit and well. With Kotim, a 5-year-old orangutan who was released in April 2016.

Mother and son (and their companion Kotim, who was released in April 2016, and seems to like hanging around with them) fit and healthy.

Thank you.

Join the Orangutan Foundation to support this work or adopt Okto, one of our orphaned orangutans.

 

The Situation Worsens

kolam2 The Orangutan Foundation recently learned news of yet another orangutan found stranded with nowhere to go. Kolam, a male of around 10 years of age, is the ninth orangutan to have been found by the same stretch of road, built in the past few years to connect two towns. Before this road was built the only way to get to and from these towns was by boat, consequently people can now access areas of land they couldn’t before.

kilometer-12

Kolam’s nest can be seen in the tree, with the road in the foreground.

 The forest which once stood is being cleared and orangutans, trying to reach a fruiting tree which once grew, are finding themselves stranded, surrounded by roads and villages.

Kolam was darted with a sedative during the rescue.

Orangutan Foundation staff translocated Kolam whilst sedated.

Once anaesthetized, the rescue team had to carry the heavy orangutan through difficult terrain.

 Blood sampling results showed the orangutan to be in good health and free from contagious diseases which meant Kolam was released back into the wild in the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve, Central Kalimantan.

 

Kolam took immediately to the trees upon release.

Kolam has now been returned to the forest.

Dr. Ade Soeharso, our Program Manager in Indonesia congratulated the hard work of the excellent rescue team.

The rescue team.

Please consider a donation to help the Foundation with our ever-growing need for more facilities to care for rescued orangutans.

 

(VIDEO) Rawit's Release

Two days ago the reintroduction team of the Orangutan Foundation successfully released another orangutan back into the forest of the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve where she belongs.

Found tied up in a villager's backyard just 2 weeks ago, this 5 year old female orangutan known as Rawit is now happily living back in the forest. A previously reintroduced female has taken her under her wing. Read about Rawit's story here.

We thank wildlife photographer and Orangutan Foundation supporter Ian Wood for documenting her release. For more information on Ian's work visit his website http://www.agoodplace.co.uk

The Story of Rawit

Rawit was found bound tightly to a tree. Once again we are seeing what happens to orangutans when they are stranded in pockets of forest with oil-palm on one side and villages on the other. On 18th October, a female orangutan of around 5 years of age was rescued in Central Kalimantan. This is the story of Rawit, as sent by our vet just a few days ago.

BKSDA (Indonesian Nature Conservation Agency) staff received news from local police that villagers had a young orangutan in their possession that they wished to surrender.

indonesian-staff-with-govresized

r2

r2

When the team arrived to confiscate Rawit, it was noticed immediately that her limbs were very swollen, especially her left wrist, as a result of being tied up.

rawit-2

r4

Shortly after the rescue, Rawit was placed in the Foundation’s care. After a couple of days of being cared for by our staff, the swelling was significantly reduced and Rawit was able to grasp the side of her cage which she couldn’t before.

rawit-6

rawit-1

Rawit has now joined our soft-release programme within the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve where staff will continue to monitor and support her progress until she is considered ready for release.

To help us provide Rawit and other orangutans on our soft-release programme with the very best care, please consider adopting an orangutan. All proceeds go directly towards supporting the Foundation’s soft-release programme.

A Race to Freedom

We recently received news from the field of a rescue which did not go as planned, but nevertheless resulted in success. Last week, Orangutan Foundation staff received reports from the local village of Pangkalan Lima of a sun bear trapped in a villager’s well. The smallest of the world’s eight living bear species, the Bornean sun bear is also the least studied, with little known about its biology or range.

Sun bear trapped in the well

Our vet first anaesthetised the bear in order for staff to be able to safely remove the bear without injury to either party. A net was used to lift the bear up from the well.

OF staff used a net to lift the bear out of the well

 

The Foundation vet took blood samples which were taken to test for diseases which may have left the bear vulnerable following release. Test results later showed the bear to be in good health.

When managing the rescue and translocation of wild animals there is always a degree of unpredictability as to how the animal itself will react. The bear was placed within a cage whilst still sedated ready for translocation into the forest nearby.

The bear was placed in a cage until release

But after two hours, staff found the bear had escaped! It took a further two hours to successfully recapture the bear from BKSDA grounds, where it was swiftly moved to a stronger cage until its release.

Later that evening it was further transferred to a safer cage overnight, as staff were still worried he could bite his way through the second cage. The bear was clearly very wild and needed to return to the forest, and staff successfully released it the next day in camp Siswoyo in Lamandau Wildlife Reserve.

OF staff raise the door of the cage at the moment of release

Foundation staff are encountering a rise in the number of animals in need of translocation as they come in increasing contact with growing human settlements. Make a donation to ensure the Foundation can continue to keep the surrounding protected areas free from human development so that animals we rescue such as this sun bear have forest to return to.

The sun bear disappeared into the forest immediately following release

Herni – another orangutan rescued and released.

We have just received a report from our reintroduction manager, Azhari, about a recently rescued orangutan. Herni

Herni is a young female orangutan with a tremendous wild spirit. She was handed over to the Indonesian authorities by a local community, near Sampit (Indonesian Borneo), at the end of June.  Herni was taken to the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve, an area which the Orangutan Foundation actively protect with guard posts and patrols.  For three weeks Herni was looked after at Camp Siswoyo, one of six orangutan release camps, in the Reserve.

release4

Camp staff report that she doesn’t make the tidiest nests to sleep in and sometimes she adds branches to old nests to fix them and make them stronger. As you would expect from an orangutan, she travels well through the trees rarely descending to the forest floor. On the 26th August, the Orangutan Foundation staff decided that Herni was ready for soft release. This means being monitored and followed by the camp staff from dawn to dusk for 20 days.  Not as easy as it sounds!

release3

Reports so far show that Herni is doing really well, eating the correct foods and following adult females to learn from them what foods to eat. The daily ranging that Herni is doing is between 600m and 1km. The good news is while Herni follows the other orangutans, she rarely goes down to the ground. Sometimes, the staff lost her because she likes to move in the forest canopy, just like an orangutan should, whilst the staff are having to climb over tree roots and wade through swamps. Our staff are experts in the forests and so she doesn't get lost for long.

release10

Please consider making a donation to support our ongoing work protecting this important forest reserve and its precious inhabitants.

release6

Thank you

Orangutan Foundation

Rediscovered - but soon to disappear?

Early this year, the general public received the sad news that one of what is believed to be a population of only 15 Sumatran rhinos inhabiting the West Kutai district of Kalimantan had died. Najaq, a female rhino, had been suffering from an infected wound on her leg, believed to be caused by snares set by poachers. This news highlighted the plight of the remaining relict population of Sumatran rhinos in Borneo. This population (previously thought to be extinct) was rediscovered in 2013 and tracked with the use of camera traps, as Sumatran rhinos are shy solitary animals. IMG_5318

Sumatran rhinos (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) are listed as critically endangered, with less than 250 thought to exist in isolated wild populations across Sumatra and Borneo, although originally found throughout much of Southeast Asia. These rhinos are the smallest of the five surviving species, and the only type possessing a light covering of long hair, earning the nickname ‘hairy rhinos’! Their biggest threat is from poachers who are after their coveted horn; their horns are sought after as a status symbol and for use in alternative medicine.

0821sumatran-rhino

Field workers are hoping to capture the remaining 14 rhinos in Kalimantan and transfer them to a sanctuary which is currently being constructed close to where Najaq was found. Whether this will be enough to save this Bornean subspecies is unclear. With such a small number believed to be left in existence, we may sadly have to bid farewell to this majestic species of megafauna that once roamed the wild forests of Borneo alongside orangutans.

Rainforest Reflections: Day 11

Rainforest Reflections by Rowan Sharp (This blog has been edited to include more recent events.)

Working for an NGO that primarily focuses on habitat conservation, I normally try to avoid speaking too emotively or sentimentally about the animals we rescue. But when a wounded gibbon is clutching your hand as he fights for his life, it’s really very hard not to see the emotional side of things.

gibbon

This particular gibbon had been kept as a pet by a local villager, and bound by ropes within their home. When the gibbon grew in size, and began to become wilder in nature, he eventually bit the owner. It’s a shame that it took an event of this kind to push the owner to give him up to the local authorities, but it at least landed him in the safe hands of the Orangutan Foundation.

It was clear from the moment we laid eyes on him that something was wrong; a usually very energetic (and potentially aggressive) species, the gibbon instead lay limp and silent on the floor of his cage. As soon as we took a closer look, we could see the deep deep wounds around his waist which had already caused a terrible infection. His body trembled violently and there was no shadow of a doubt that he was in a great deal of pain. Domesticated by years of being kept as a pet, the ape was desperate for human contact and reached out to us to be held…ethics and professionalism were thrown out the window at this point. His death truly felt imminent, and refusing to hold him was to sentence him to die alone in a steel cage.

ashley gibbon

This first encounter was heartbreaking for all involved, and it’s really quite difficult to put the range of emotions into words. All I know is that, at the end of the day, the feeling I felt most strongly was anger. Anger at the people who could tie up an innocent animal without a second thought to its well-being (never mind that gibbons are one of the most intelligent species on the planet). Anger that in this day and age, when awareness is so high, people still don’t see a problem with keeping a wild ape as a pet. And anger that we couldn't have done anything sooner; maybe somehow prevented the infection from getting to this late stage. But there was no one around to direct this anger to. We felt helpless, and there was little to be done but to hold his hands and hope for the best.

For the next few days, the gibbon was held in the Foundation’s office in Pangkalan Bun where he could receive constant care from our staff. He remained weak and his wounds were not visibly healing, but his appetite was building – as was our optimism. Sadly at 1:04am on Friday April 15th, we received word from our night guard that the gibbon had passed away.

We are all devastated by this turn of events and can only hope that his story can serve as a lesson to all.