Tag Archives: orangutan release site

Young orangutan rescued

Meet Sampito, a male orangutan who recently arrived at Camp JL, in the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve, Central Kalimantan, Borneo.

Sampito, 3 year old male orangutan at BKSDA eating rambutan

Sampito, 3 year old male orangutan at BKSDA eating rambutan

Sampito is thought to be about 3 years old and was rescued by the Indonesian Government’s Agency for the Conservation of Natural Resources (BKSDA SKW II) from a village near the town of Sampit.  Sampito’s mother was most likely killed as their forest habitat was cleared to make way for oil palm plantations or because she was considered an agricultural pest.

Dr Fikri with Sampito on speedboat to the reserve

Dr Fikri with Sampito on speedboat to the reserve

After a few days of checkups and monitoring at the local BKSDA office in Pangkalan Bun, Sampito was taken by the Orangutan Foundation’s vet, Dr Fikri, to the Lamandau River Reserve.

Dr Fikri arrives at Camp JL with Sampito

Dr Fikri arrives at Camp JL with Sampito

Sampito peering over Dr Fikri's shoulder at his new surrounding

Sampito peering over Dr Fikri's shoulder at his new surrounding

Samput being put into his holding cage.

Sampito being put into his holding cage.

Sampito eating rambutan and bananas

Sampito eating rambutan and bananas

Sampito with peeled rambutan in his mouth

Sampito with peeled rambutan in his mouth

When Sampito reaches his ideal body weight and is considered fit and healthy by Dr Fikri he will be gradually be allowed out into the forest to play and explore.  He will be returned to the holding cage at night.  Once the Foundation staff are happy that Sampito can find enough food to eat and that can make a nest to sleep in then he will no longer return to his cage. Field staff will follow and monitor Sampito to ensure he copes with living in the wild without his mother.

We would like to thank Colchester Zoo’s Action for the Wild Fund for their support of our Vet Programme.

More news  to follow soon….

Thank you,

Orangutan Foundation

Images of the orangutans return to Borneo

Here are a few photos of Kevin and Bobby, the two Bornean orangutans who are now back in Borneo  after being returned from Sumatra.The internet connection in Pangkalan Bun, Borneo has been very poor and unreliable -Pak  Tigor, the OrangutanReintroduction Manager managed to send these through. 

Kevin and Bobby arrive at P. Bun

Coming off the aeroplane

Kevin and Bobby come off the plane into Pangkalan Bun, after a change over in Jakarta.

Kevin and Bobby in the airport shed

Cargo crates in the airport shed before being taken by pick up truck to the local givernment facility. Not that you can see them very well but both orangutans were unfazed by their journey.

Hopefully there will be more to follow of their final journey into the swamp forest of Borneo over the next few days. Thank you Pak Tigor for your persistence and patience in sending them through!

Please help us to ensure that Kevin and Bobby remain in the wild by supporting our work in the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve. You can donate here.

Orangutans back to Borneo

Press Release

Wednesday 21st September 211

 Back to Borneo

 Endangered Bornean orangutans return home from Sumatra.

Two orangutans, which started their life in the wilds of Borneo, but ended up as pets in Sumatra have returned home.

Kevin and Bobby, are male Bornean orangutans. Their mothers were almost certainly killed at the time of their capture in Borneo (probably whilst their habitat was being clear-felled) and their previous “owners” obtained them in Borneo before returning home to the island of Sumatra. Fortunately for both Kevin and Bobby, they were subsequently rescued by the Indonesian government’s local Nature Conservation department (PHKA) and staff of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (implemented by the Swiss based PanEco Foundation and the Indonesian Yayasan Ecosystem Lestari and PHKA). Under Indonesian law it is illegal to keep orangutans as pets and to trade, harm or kill them. Kevin was rescued in 2006, aged a little over 2 years and Bobby in 2009 aged around 3 or 4 years old.


Bobby above and below – male Bornean orangutan

Bobby 3

Under the care of SOCP at the Batu Mbelin Orangutan Quarantine Centre near Medan, North Sumatra, both orangutans grew, gained weight and had excellent health. They were therefore very much ready for a return to a life in the wild. To do this, however, they had to be returned to the island of their birth. Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus) and Sumatran orangutans (Pongo abelii) are nowadays recognized by scientists as being two distinct and separate species. As such, Bornean orangutans must only be released on Borneo, and Sumatrans on Sumatra. Mixing the species on the two islands would be detrimental to the genetic viability of both species’ wild populations.


Kevin –  male Bornean orangutan

The Sumatran orangutan is already listed as Critically Endangered by the World Conservation Union (IUCN), and the Bornean as Endangered. In fact there are estimated to be only around 50,000 Bornean orangutans left in the wild and as few as only 6,600 or so Sumatrans. The future for both is therefore already precarious enough.

For the above reasons, Dr Ian Singleton, Director of Conservation for the PanEco Foundation and head of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme, approached the Orangutan Foundation, a UK registered charity, to help get the two young orangutans back to where they belonged thus contributing to the long term conservation of the Bornean orangutans, “Kevin and Bobby deserve the chance to be wild orangutans once again and we have done everything we can to make sure it happens. If we can at the same time highlight the plight of orangutans on both islands and remind people that it is illegal in Indonesia to keep them as pets then that would be an added bonus.” said the British born expert.

The Orangutan Foundation’s work is focused towards Central Kalimantan, in the Indonesia part of Borneo. In collaboration with the Indonesian government’s local Nature Conservation department (PHKA), the Orangutan Foundation runs a release site for rehabilitated and trans-located wild orangutans in the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve.

On Saturday 17 September, the Orangutan Foundation team including their vet, Dr Fikri, flew to Medan, where the two orangutans were being kept together.  On Monday, after final checks, Kevin and Bobby began their journey home. First they flew to Jakarta, on the island of Java. Both orangutans seemed fine and not too stressed after the first flight and the Orangutan Foundation’s vet gave them some fruit. They then flew onto Pangkalan Bun, Central Kalimantan, on the island of Borneo.   On arrival, back home in Borneo, both orangutans looked out curiously from their cargo crate. The Australian Orangutan Project, partners of both organisations, kindly agreed to help fund the cost of bringing the two orangutans home. 

Kevin and Bobby are currently resting and then they will undergo some additional final pre-release medical checks at a local government facility. They will then complete the final leg of their journey, by river on a longboat, to the 76,000 hectare.

Once at the reserve they will again be housed for a few more weeks in a large cage, but this time deep in the forest that they will soon be free to explore. This is to allow them to really rest up after all the travelling and to acclimatize to their new surroundings, the swamp forests of Borneo.

Their health and behaviour will continue to be closely monitored by Orangutan Foundation’s vet and once given the all clear and when the time is right, they will finally be freed and get their chance to live as wild orangutans once again. Even then, the OF team will continue to follow them and monitor their behaviour and health until such time they are confident they will survive with little or no more intervention.

The principle threat to wild orangutans on both islands is habitat loss, mostly as forests are cleared for conversion to agriculture, especially vast, monoculture oil palm plantations. Many of the orangutans in these forests die or are killed in the process. Some of the lucky ones manage to survive and end up as illegal pets. The luckiest of them all survive long enough to be confiscated and placed in a rescue centre, and are eventually returned to a life in the wild.

The general public can help support the Orangutan Foundation’s work in the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve at http://www.orangutan.org.ukor 020 7724 2912.

For more information, high resolution images, or to arrange an interview,

call Cathy Smith on +44 (0)20 7724 2912 or email cathy@orangutan.org.uk

Notes to editors:

Orangutans are only found on two islands, Borneo and Sumatra and they are classified as two distinct species reflecting this geographic distribution.

Sumatran orangutans are critically endangered with only about 6,600 in the wild. Bornean orangutans are endangered with only about 50,000 remaining. 

The Sumatra Orangutan Conservation Programme is a collaborative programme implemented by the Swiss based PanEco Foundation, Indonesia’s Yayasan Ekosistem Lestari (Foundation for a Sustainable Ecosystem) the Indonesian Government’s Directorate General of Forest Protection and Nature

The Orangutan Foundation works in collaboration with The Directorate General of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation of the Ministry of Forestry of the Republic of Indonesia (Ditjen PHKA).

The Orangutan Foundation is the UK representative of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme.

Volunteering again…seven years on

Our volunteer programme is now in its 10th year, which is testament enough to its success. Paying volunteers inject an income and workforce into our field projects and without volunteer participation our orangutan release sites would not be nearly as smooth-running or numerous as they are. In the past, volunteers have also built guard posts, constructed portal gates across rivers to block illegal loggers and constructed the Pondok Ambung Tropical Research Station. This year the teams have built a release site at Camp Mangkung (see former post “Orangutan Release Site Nearly Ready”).

Building the release site.

When I joined the programme the main buildings were all up and there was just cementing, attaching of doors/windows and a load of painting to do. I arrived mid-afternoon to the sound of hammering, sanding and Bon Jovi (music, preferably cheesy, is always a necessity for motivation in the afternoons!). The river had risen sufficiently to render the camp an island and it instantly reminded me of Big Brother just for the sheer lack of space.

Camp Mangkung -Vol Prog 2008

I always tell volunteers about the lack of “head space” when they are flung together as a group for 6 weeks with no email/phone etc, but even I myself was not quite prepared for the lack of physical space to move around. These guys had had it for four weeks, and yet they were still upbeat and working hard, joking and laughing (admittedly quite a few Oreos were eaten, but we all need a sugar fix every now and then). It just goes to show, provided you have passion for the cause for which you are working, you can keep motivated whatever.

Vol Prog 2008

I happily got stuck in to the work for the short while I was there and was delighted to manage not to remove any thumbnails, or cement anyone to the floor! It was so good to just get down to work, have a bit of chat, and not be stuck looking at a PC. The work is physically quite tough, but to be able to step back and see the finished product at the end of your time there really does make it worthwhile. This could explain why we had to take several pauses during the work…..

I can honestly say that the programme really has not changed at all since my first time; the only difference is that the Indonesians assistants are more into wearing boardshorts than combats these days and there is a greater range of chocolate snacks brought into camp to cheer up flagging volunteers.

Camp Mangkung -Vol Prog 2008

I was also pleased to slip back into the way of life there where evenings are spent drinking tea and chatting and learning Indonesian with the local guys working there. It really does make you re-assess how we spend our time back at home. In fact, the volunteer programme seems to make everyone take stock of their lives, motivations and beliefs when they get home. It may sound clichéd, but all of our feedback to date suggests that volunteers see the programme as a time when they saw another side to life as well as thoroughly enjoyed themselves whilst doing something constructive and beneficial for the orangutans and the forest.

Vol Prog 2008 - release site

I left the volunteers on the final stages of the building, safe in the knowledge that they would get their reward going to Camp Rasak to see an operational orangutan release site. Apparently they all loved it, which is perfect; the fruits of their labour should be echoing the activity of Rasak in a few months, and they can all be proud. Some people are even talking about coming back next year, so maybe they will be able to see it in action. Thanks to Jordi Clopes for all these photographs.

If anyone wants to know more about the volunteer programme then please have a look at the brochure on our website. Volunteer Brochure

I am now (sadly) back in the UK and the contrast to the Indonesian laid-back culture could not be greater. Madness seems to have hit, and the interest in Orangutan Awareness Week and Orange for Orangutan day (November 14th) is all consuming…..

New Vet For Lamandau Wildlife Reserve (orangutan release site)

Last month we were awarded a grant by the Gemini Foundation to implement a system of veterinary health care for the orangutans released into Lamandau Wildlife Reserve. This will mean recruiting our own vet, which is very exciting.

In Lamandau there is a system of post release monitoring and the orangutans are given supplementary food to help with the transition back to the wild. However, approximately 5 – 6% of all released orangutans are taken back to Orangutan Care Centre & Quarantine at some point, most commonly for small injuries or skin diseases and very rarely for more serious conditions, like Zidane. In common with all orangutan rehabilitation centres the OCCQ is full to capacity so the return of orangutans only puts an extra burden on them. Having a vet in Lamandau will reduce the chance of orangutans returning to the OCCQ, thus minimising potential stress caused to the orangutans as well. Tigor (Lamandau Rehabilitation Camps Manager) and I have finalized the job description and the advert has now gone out. Interviews will begin at the end of the month.

On to less interesting matters, it is report time again. October marks the start of the final quarter for the year; this is the time when we panic about how much or how little money is left over and what is still to be done. The written reports I can handle, it’s the budgets that I struggle with!

How I feel tackling accounts! (Photo by Sarah Seymour)

I probably share the same expression when I have to tackle Excel! (photo by Sarah Seymour)

Back at University, I remember courses on cell structure and function, zoo-physiology, population genetics, the biology of animal adaptation. I do not remember Accounting 101! What on earth is the meaning of “=SUMIF (‘General edger’ !$C$49:$C$115,C72, ‘ General Ledger’!$F$49:$F$115)”?

How I feel tackling accounts! (Photo by Sarah Seymour)

I love the two photos in this post, courtesy of Sarah Seymour. While the orangutans are undoubtedly cuter, their facial expressions remind me of mine as I look at those Excel spreadsheets.

Orangutan Release Site Almost Ready.

There is always something disconcerting about taking off your wet boots at the end of a day and having a big, fat leech drop out. The one that rolled out of my right sock yesterday, on my way to the new orangutan release site, was almost the size of my little finger. The one that was stuck to the inside of my calf (which I found later in the shower) was still filling up. That’s what you get walking through swamps in Borneo!

Leeches don’t horrify my, the buzzing of mosquitoes and their annoying, itchy bites are, I think, worse. Anyway, the purpose of this blog wasn’t meant to describe the various blood-sucking invertebrates we encounter. Rather it was to tell you of yesterday’s trip to Camp Mangkung in the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve, our newest orangutan release site which was being built by our volunteer teams. The good news is the camp is just about finished. The volunteers have done another great job.
Mangkung Vols Oct 08

Mangkung release site

Orangutan Painting Camp Mangkung

Orangutan Painting Camp Mangkung

Photos showing the almost finished release site (and some fine artwork) at Camp Mangkung in the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve.

Despite madly fluctuating water levels and pretty rudimentary construction skills the dining hall and sleeping accommodation are complete. All that still needs to be done is to build the toilet and wash rooms and then tidy the site.

We walked into the surrounding forest to scout potential feeding sites. Hanging the tyres won’t be a problem! Which reminds me to say thank you to everyone who has donated so far and to Brigitta, for your latest $20 donation; we already have enough for putting tyres up at Camps JL and Rasak. If you can continue to help us we will soon have enough for the remaining camps.

At the end of the day, rather than go back via the river, Dan Ward (volunteer coordinator) and I decided to walked out. I wanted to see what access would be like when the river is low. It was a great walk, except for the fact I did not find the leeches until I got home!