Masarang on Belgian television

Release of orangutans Molly, Bembi and Joy

In collaboration with the Sintang Orangutan Center (SOC) in Borneo, we were able to do a nice release program and this is beautifully portrayed by Belgian television on Een.

A very long preparation precedes before the orangutans can be released into the release area again. This is partly dependent on how they arrive at the SOC where they are first received and undergo a rehabilitation process. Then it is checked whether they still have the capacity to survive themselves. Because many orangutans have been taken away from their mother and from their natural environment at a very young age, they do not know how to survive in the wild. For example, they have to build a nest every night and they learn what they can and cannot eat. In the wild the young stay with their mother until the age of seven.

In SOC, orangutans are prepared as well as possible for life back in the wilderness, and if they are big enough, they also learn their skills in practice. That happens in the practice forests Tembak Lestari and Jerora.
As Molly, Bembi and Joy were the second group orangutans to be released in the new release area, our project mainly supported the research and design of the new release area in the Betung Kerihun National Park (see location map below).

Consider, for example, whether the habitat for the orangutans is sufficient, but also whether there is a good existing ecology and safety. To do this, a base camp was needed for employees and equipment. Speedboats were also needed to get to this area, which were also used to release Jojo, Juvi and Cemong and later Bembi, Molly and Joy at their new release location! Furthermore, the area must of course also have legal protection status and support from various stakeholders. The orangutans are also monitored for a long time after their release. Employees specially appointed for this work work in shifts in the area and not only keep an eye on the orangutans but also on their living environment.

Betung Kerihun is approximately 220 km northwest of Sintang. This area in the heart of Borneo comprises more than 8000 km2 of virgin rainforest and has been a protected national park since 1995. The park has a large biodiversity. Among other things, orangutans occur. In this park, surrounded by rivers, lies Mendalam: a forest area of ​​940 km2 where Molly, Bembi and Joy now successfully reside in their original habitat.

Special thanks go to our donor Johannes Freije who made this project possible and was able to experience this release himself!