Female orangutan Nobri was born at a pre-release island in 2005 and was raised to be a completely independent orangutan. In 2016, she was released in the Bukit Batikap Protection Forest and earlier this year she was spotted with an infant, the first wild-born baby of the year.

It is a very positive sign when orangutans that have been released into the wild have a baby. This indicates that the orangutan has been able to adapt to life in the wild successfully. Additionally, it contributes to future sustainable wild orangutan populations. Orangutans have the longest interbirth interval of all land mammals in the world. Female orangutans usually reproduce only once every six to eight years. This is one of the reasons why orangutans are such an incredibly vulnerable species.

Therefore, the post-release monitoring team in Bukit Batikap were very pleased when they, after months of searching, finally located Nobri – and found her with a new-born baby.

Raised as a wild orangutan

Nobri was born in 2005 to mother Shelli. Shelli had been rescued and brought to the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in 2001 after many years in captivity as an illicit pet in Jakarta. Shelli started out completely dependent on humans, but in only two years she moved to a pre-release island to live semi-independently, where she later gave birth to her daughter Nobri.

Read more about the rehabilitation process here.

Nobri’s mother Shelli was rescued when she was eight. Photo: BOS F I Indrayana

As Nobri was raised naturally by her own mother, Nobri had excellent survival skills and a strong dislike for humans. Her fierce independence worked against her however, when in 2013, she was selected as a release candidate alongside her mother Shelli and younger sister Forest. She was so wary and quick that the veterinary team found her impossible to tranquilize despite countless efforts. They had no choice, but to give the opportunity to another orangutan and allow to Nobri to continue her life on the island.

Returning home

Three years after the initial plan, they were finally able to sedate wild Nobri and on April 22, 2016 she was released into the Bukit Batikap Protection Forest. Immediately Nobri proved herself as a highly skilled wild orangutan. She constantly challenged the abilities of the Post-Release Monitoring team as well, keeping high in the trees and hiding from their vision.

Nobri gave birth to the first wild-born baby of 2020
Nobri was finally released in 2016. Photo: BOS F

During her time in the wild she had suffered from air sacculitis, a painful and potentially deadly disease which unfortunately has a high rate of recurrence. After a few months of veterinary care, Nobri was healthy and released back into the wild. The post-release monitoring team worked their hardest to check-in on Nobri, but with her wild nature she travelled deep into the forest, completely losing her human observers for months.

The first wild-born baby of the year

When Nobri was finally spotted again, the veterinary team became worried. There appeared to be some swelling in her air sac. Nobri managed to disappear again and as the months passed, the team grew worried. Despite their best efforts, all searches turned up in vain. It was six months later that their radiotelemetry equipment picked up a signal. It was Nobri’s!

Nobri gave birth to the first wild-born baby of 2020
Nobri got veterinary treatment for air sacculitis. Photo: BOS F I Andrea

The worried team managed to first locate female orangutan Manggo with her infant who was first sighted in 2019. And then they spotted a healthy Nobri – with a new-born infant clinging to her! Nobri’s baby was the first wild birth of 2020 and another orangutan who was the 2nd generation born from our partner BOS Foundation’s rehabilitation program!

As a new mother, Nobri continued to stay as far as possible from humans. She spent much of her day in the upper canopy, hidden behind foliage, making it impossible for the team to take a photo of her or to determine the sex of the child.

Nearly twenty years after the rescue of Shelli from life as an illegal pet in the city of Jakarta, her grandchild was born free in a wild Bornean forest.

Nobri always hides away from the PRM team, which made it impossible to take a picture of her new-born child. Photo: BOS F I Andrea