As 2015 draws to an end, the BOS Foundation inaugurates a new facility, a Special Care Unit, built with support from BOS Switzerland, a partner of the BOS Foundation, and releases 4 orangutans from the East Kalimantan Orangutan Reintroduction Program in Samboja Lestari to Kehje Sewen Forest.
Samboja Lestari, East Kalimantan, 1 December 2015. Support for orangutan and habitat conservation efforts are received from around the globe. People from Switzerland have joined this effort and significantly contributed in responding to the call for help to conserve the only great ape species found in Asia.
Financial support was received from BOS Switzerland, a partner of the BOS Foundation, for the East Kalimantan Orangutan Reintroduction Program in Samboja Lestari (Samboja Lestari) which has enabled the construction of a Special Care Unit (SCU) with capacity to house 50 individual orangutans, together with support for our orangutan release events; and other conservation related activities in the Kehje Sewen Forest which is managed by PT Restorasi Habitat Orangutan Indonesia (PT RHOI).
It is estimated that around 10% of the orangutans under the care of the BOS Foundation are unreleaseable due to various conditions, such as illness, disabilites, or insufficient wild behavior as a consequence of extensive human contact whilst held in illegal captivity prior to their arrival in Samboja Lestari. These conditions sadly mean they would not be able to survive in the wild.
The BOS Foundation is committed to ensuring that these orangutans will be given the best possible care in a suitable environment. The BOS Foundation has been planning this facility for more than six years and thankfully, funds made available by their partner BOS Switzerland, has finally made this a reality.
The construction of this new facility commenced in May and is now ready for operation. The SCU will be inaugurated on 1 December 2015, is equipped with various enrichment facilities with the purpose of stimulating intelligence and providing various foods in novel ways to ensure the orangutans are continuously learning. In addition, BOS Australia, also a partner of the BOS Foundation, has provided support to fund a special waste water management system to ensure the wellfare of our orangutans. The unreleaseable orangutans will be transferred from their existing enclosure to the new SCU immediately.
The Swiss Ambassador to Indonesia, Mrs. Yvonne Baumann, attends the inauguration ceremony out of her deep concern of environmental issues and passion to observe and learn all aspects of orangutan conservation activities in which the BOS Foundation engages and show support as the representative of the Swiss government in Indonesia towards orangutan conservation. During this visit, Ambassador Baumann will also inaugurate the Special Care Unit which was built through the support of BOS Switzerland.
Yvonne Baumann, Swiss Ambassador to Indonesia said, “In order to conserve endangered species such as orangutans, we need significant commitment from all parties involved. This year, the Swiss Embassy in Indonesia has helped fund a 5 hectare replanting program within Samboja Lestari in a area devasted by fire outbreaks just weeks ago. Today, I am delighted to finally be able to see the important work of the BOS Foundation.”
Dr. Ir. Jamartin Sihite, BOS Foundation CEO said, “We warmly welcome Ambassador Baumann and thank her deep interest in the BOS Foundation and the orangutan conservation efforts we are implementing. Her presence here as the representative of the Swiss government in Indonesia shows goodwill in supporting our orangutan conservation activities.”
“We still bear the responsibility to ensure the wellfare of all orangutans under our care within our reintroduction centers, including those individuals who can never be returned to the wild. We have already released many orangutans back to natural forest, but this is a huge task and we still have hundreds of orangutans ready and waiting for release., We call on everyone to help support this effort. The government, in this case, the East Kalimantan BKSDA and related authorities have given us much support, however we still need commitments from the local government of East Kutai and Kutai Kertanegara regencies to help and take real action in protecting the orangutans we have released through strict law enforcement to ensure the long-term preservation and protection of orangutans and habitat in East Kalimantan,” Dr. Sihite adds.
The General Director of Natural Resources and Ecosystem Conservation (Dirjen KSDAE) of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Dr Ir Tachrir Fathoni, responded by saying, “Conservation of orangutans and their habitat is our common responsibility. Orangutans are protected by law. Their population within rehabilitation centers is still huge and we need to return them back to the forest, once they are ready for release. The Ministry of Environment and Forestry enthusiastically supports all aspects of orangutan and habitat conservation effort. It is our common duty, both the central and local government and the good people of East Kalimantan to take care of and preserve our forests. Our success towards protecting endangered animals and their habitat detemines what the next generation will inherit from us.”
Parallel to the inauguration of the SCU, the BOS Foundation also releases four individual orangutans from Samboja Lestari. These four individuals, comprising of two males and two females, will start the release journey overland for two days from Samboja Lestari to the release area in Kehje Sewen Forest in Kutai Timur and Kutai Kartanegara regencies, East Kalimantan.
From 2012 to date, the BOS Foundation Samboja Lestari Program has released 36 orangutans back to their natural habitat in Kehje Sewen Forest. The number now changes with the release of four more individuals, to 40 orangutans which have been returned to the forest.
Interestingly the two female orangutan candidates, Teresa and Bungan, both came from forest areas around Kehje Sewen Forest. Teresa was confiscated by BKSDA Tenggarong from a local person in Muara Wahau and handed over to BOS Foundation in 2010. Whilst Bungan arrived even earlier, in 2007 through a handover from a local resident of Samarinda who said that the baby was also found in Muara Wahau. Now, 7 year-old Teresa and 9 year-old Bungan are ready to go home where they belong. Though, this time the area they will be released into is much safer and more suitable for their long-term conservation.
Drh. Agus Irwanto, Samboja Lestari Program Manager says, “We are proud to be able to release four more orangutans. This has been a long wait for them to return to natural habitat. These orangutans belong to the government and have been entrusted to us and we have rehabilitated them for several years. I hope that this will be the beginning of a wonderful journey for them to live in natural habitat, just like the orangutans we have previously released.”
Dr. Aldrianto Priadjati, the Conservation Director of PT RHOI adds, “We face a constant challenge to ensure that our rehabilitated orangutans are ready for release, and that the orangutans we have already released can adapt well and reproduce in natural habitat. Furthermore, we are still trying to obtain other orangutan release areas under the Ecosystem Restoration Concession scheme, both in East and Central Kalimantan. We desperately need support from all parties and stakeholders to help ensure all the orangutans currently in our rehabilitation centers can be released as soon as possible.”
Dr. Elisabeth Labes, Co-founder, Head of International Projects and Partner Relations for BOS Switzerland says: “Unfortunately, under specific circumstances, orangutans cannot be released back into the wild. We have to make sure that these individuals receive the best possible care since they will have to live in the care of BOS Foundation for the rest of their lives. I am very happy that BOS Switzerland has been able to provide the funds for the construction of such an important facility. It is a special honour for us that the Ambassador of our country, Yvonne Baumann, will attend the inauguration of the new Special Care Unit and that the Embassy of Switzerland has given their generous support for the replanting of 5 hectares of forest after the recent devastating fires in Samboja Lestari.”
This release is conducted through the collaboration of the East Kalimantan BKSDA, Provincial Government of East Kalimantan, government of East Kutai and Kutai Kartanegara regencies, as well as the people of East Kutai and Kutai Kartanegara regencies. The BOS Foundation is extremely grateful for the moral and financial support from BOS Switzerland, individual donors, other partners and organizations around the world concerned with orangutan conservation efforts in Indonesia.
Communication Staff Samboja Lestari
ABOUT BOS FOUNDATION
Founded In 1991, the BOS Foundation is a non-profit Indonesian organization dedicated to conservation of Bornean orangutan and its habitat, working together with local communities, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry of the Republic of Indonesia and international partner organizations.
Currently the BOS Foundation is rehabilitating more than 700 orangutans with the support from 400 highly dedicated staff and experts in primatology, biodiversity, ecology, forest rehabilitation, agroforestry, community empowerment, communications, education, and orangutan welfare. For further informations please visit www.orangutan.or.id.
ABOUT PT RHOI
PT Restorasi Habitat Orangutan Indonesia (RHOI) is a company that was established by the BOS Foundation on April 21, 2009, solely to acquire the Utilization of Forest Timber Products through Restoration of the Ecosystem (IUPHHK-RE), also known as an Ecosystem Restoration Concession (ERC).
As a non-profit organization the BOS Foundation is not allowed to apply for this license due to government regulations. Hence, RHOI was established. This permit enables RHOI authority on managing a concession area—in this case, a forest area—the most important aspect in an orangutan release process.
On August 18, 2010, RHOI was issued an ERC permit, giving them the authority to use and manage 86,450 hectares of rainforest in East Kutai and Kutai Kertanegara Regencies, East Kalimantan. This concession provides a sustainable and secure habitat for orangutans for at least 60 years, with the option of extending for another 35 years. Issued by the Ministry of Forestry, this ERC license cost around US$1.4 million, which was funded by generous donations from donors and the BOS Foundation’s partner organizations in Europe, Australia and the USA.
RHOI named this forest Kehje Sewen, which translates as ‘orangutan’ in the local Dayak Wehea dialect. By name and nature, the Kehje Sewen Forest became a forest for orangutans. For more information, please visit www.theforestforever.com.