Observation of orangutans reveals great success

22-10-2014

Inside the deepest rainforests of Borneo lives a small group of people in a camp. Their job is to monitor the orangutans that have been released back into the forest area of Bukit Batikap by the rehabilitation center Nyaru Menteng. They keep an eye on whether the orangutans thrive, and how they live.

Since February 2012, 131 orangutans from the rehabilitation center Nyaru Menteng have once again been given the chance to live a life of freedom. They have been released in the protected national park Bukit Batikap. Some have only spent a short period of time at the center; others have lived there since they were very young and have been dependent on people. The latter orangutans have been through a long so-called rehabilitation process. Every day, a monitoring team of 12-14 people keeps an eye on whether the rehabilitated orangutans do well on their own in the wild.

The magnificent nature is the only luxury

There is always a veterinarian present in the camp, and the veterinarians take

turns at living at the camp for a month. Local Dayaks and technicians, who collect data, live there three months at a time. In addition, the team also includes a researcher and in connection with releases a scientific consultant is involved. The entire team sleeps together in bunk beds in a small room, and there is a small kitchen and a living room with TV. In time, the camp will be expanded, but right now the magnificent scenery surrounding the building is the most luxurious part of the experience.

Signal from orangutans

The orangutans have all had a small radio transmitter implanted in the neck before they were set free in the rainforest. The radio transmitter works in the period during which the orangutans move in the trees to find food, around 9 am- 4 pm. During this period of time, the monitoring team inspects the forest with their radio receivers. 12 people cannot follow 131 orangutans daily so the orangutans are followed based on a special schedule. When given the signal, they observe the orangutan for an hour and take note of its behavior. Afterwards, they continue their route through special trails in the wilderness. Some orangutans disappear completely out of reach for long periods of time and give no signal, then suddenly reappear.

Life-affirming job

It is a tough job to live in the camp and wander the woods day after day in high humidity, holding a radio receiver above your head. But for the monitoring team, it is a life-affirming job. They have the privilege of witnessing orangutans, who otherwise would have died or been kept in captivity for the rest of their lives, get a second chance at living in the wild and ensuring the survival of their species.

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