Orangutan News Update: Six Captive Orangutans to Be Freed in E. Kalimantan

The Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation will release at least six orangutans into the wild on April 22, a foundation official said on Tuesday.

That is just a small percentage of the 600 orangutans the group says are ready for release, with budget constraints slowing the process.

“We’ll release six orangutans initially because we can’t release all of them at once. We will follow their every move for two years because it’s not easy to adapt to the wild after being in captivity for so long,” said Bungaran Saragih, the founder and chairman of the foundation.

The foundation has two rehabilitation centers, one in Nyaru Menteng, Central Kalimantan, and the other in Samboja Lestari, East Kalimantan. They house 850 orangutans rescued from captivity, and Bungaran said at least 600 were ready to be released into the wild in East Kalimantan.

“They’ve gone to school, they’ve gained their health back, we just need to send them back to the forest. But the money is not ready yet because we need a helicopter,” he said. “We need at least Rp 60 million [$6,000] per hour to move them, and the trip takes about 3.5 hours.”

However, the more pressing problem, he said, is saving the forest so the orangutan have somewhere to go.

“They are running out of forest,” he said. “That’s why my suggestion to the Forestry Ministry is that you can’t just have a ‘one man, one tree’ slogan. It won’t be enough. If one trillion trees are planted on the road, it’s not going to be a forest. We need forests, not trees.”

To create an area where orangutans can be released, the BOSF founded Restorasi Habitat Orangutan Indonesia. The organization has already been granted 86,450 hectares of former forest concession land in East Kalimantan, and is now trying to secure a permit to manage 120,000 hectares in Central Kalimantan.

Courtesy of  The Jakarta Globe/Fidelis E. Satriastanti/ January 11, 2012

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