On the 18th-19th of December, the world’s only known albino orangutan will be reintroduced to the rainforest on Borneo. Alba is the name of the 6-year-old female orangutan our partner BOS Foundation and the authorities of Indonesian Borneo, Central Kalimantan, rescued from being kept illegally as a pet in the spring of 2017.

The release will be performed in an area covering 236,000 hectares of protected rainforest within the TNBBBR National Park (Bukit Baka Bukit Raya National Park) in Central Kalimantan. BOS Foundation has released 112 rehabilitated orangutans into this area since 2012.

Save the Orangutan has followed Alba closely since she was brought to the Nyaru Menteng rehabilitation centre with the help from and approval of the authorities. For almost two years, Save the Orangutan has helped to ensure the best conditions possible for Alba at Nyaru Menteng by financially supporting the centre’s operation.

Credit: BOSF / BPI / Save the Orangutan. Photo Björn Vaughn

Deciding the release

The Indonesian government has the overall authority with regards to all of the Indonesian wildlife. Due to Alba’s age at the time of her rescue (5 years old) and her display of wild behaviour at BOS Foundation’s rehabilitation centre, the Indonesian government has decided to give Alba a second chance of freedom. Should her adaptation to life in the rainforest prove unsuccessful, contrary to the expectations, Alba can be moved to the custom-made semi-natural rainforest island, Badak Besar Island established earlier this year.

Alba will be released into the TNBBBR National Park on the 19th of December, and will leave the rehabilitation centre on the 18th of December. She will be released with Kika, an orangutan Alba has shared a socialisation cage with since her arrival at Nyaru Menteng. As part of Alba’s and Kika’s release, a monitoring team will observe their adaptation to life in the rainforest, as is the case in all of BOS Foundation’s releases. This time round, the monitoring team comprises representatives from BOS Foundation, the TNBBBR National Park, and the local authorities BKSDA (Natural Resources Conservation Agency). Read the news article from BOS Foundation here >>

Credit: BOSF / BPI / Save the orangutan. Photo Björn Vaughn

BOS Foundation is responsible for moving Alba to a more secure location such as Badak Besar if she is not capable of adapting or if her life is in danger. Upon the potential move, her development and her suitability life in the wild will be reassessed, and she will be provided with a permanent sanctuary if necessary. If Alba does not move to Badak Besar, the island will be used as a sanctuary for the un-releasable orangutans at Nyaru Menteng.

The goal in this release is to shed some light on whether the only known albino orangutan in the world has a realistic chance to survive on her own in the rainforest in the long term. No comparable data about this exists since Alba’s genetics are unique.

The orangutan species is critically endangered and protected. This implies the government is responsible for protecting and handling the species and the displaced or orphaned orangutans that come into contact with humans.

Save the Orangutan will bring you the latest news about Alba via our Indonesian partner when the release has been performed, and we will follow her and Kika’s adaptation to life in TNBBBR closely.

Video: Alba with her friends at Nyaru Menteng