After concluding our release-point survey, we joined the PRM team’s daily meeting at Nles Mamse Camp. Here we heard about an unknown wild male orangutan the PRM team had observed living in the southern area of the Kehje Sewen Forest. The team had seen him spending time with Leonie, a female orangutan who was released in September 2015. The team planned to keep monitoring the dynamic between the two.

On the third day of our survey, we decided to go by foot to inspect the road to Pelangsiran, a small transit village on the outskirts of the Kehje Sewen Forest. However, before reaching Pelangsiran we decided to head back to camp, as Christian and I were too exhausted to proceed. The eight-kilometre track from Nles Mamse Camp to Pelangsiran proved too challenging for us, and we rested near an estuary with the sounds of hornbills nearby and kangkareng flying freely in the air around us.

Having completed the task of establishing release points in the southern area of the Kehje Sewen Forest, on the fourth day we headed back to Muara Wahau, the city nearest to our location. Still, challenges lay before us.

After reaching the “end of the road” – at the end of an exhausting 400-meter walk up a steep incline and the furthest point vehicles can reach – we waited all morning to be collected by car. We had already arranged to be picked up that morning, yet there were no cars in sight. As if the forest wanted to cool us down, the rain started to fall a bit after noon. We waited all day without word, as we were in an area unreachable by phone signal. We had no other choice but to wait under a flying camp we found nearby, for it was too difficult to walk back to camp on the slippery steep hill after the rain.

By sunset there was still no sign of cars, and the four of us resigned ourselves to the fact we might have to stay overnight in the forest. We had just started to build a bonfire, when the sound of an engine came roaring in the distance. We were relieved to see that Pak Susilo and Mas Heri, the drivers, were finally coming down the track. They explained a fallen tree had blocked their way from Pelangsiran and they had to work hard to move it out of the way. Without further ado, we quickly departed for Muara Wahau. We reached Muara Wahau at around 9 p.m. and rested for a while in a hotel, after which we continued our trip to Balikpapan.

For Christian, who recently joined the Samboja Lestari team, this was his first and most valuable forest experience. He said it was incredibly exhausting, but fun! I agree. While the journey was only brief, it was indeed exhausting. I find that surprises usually await, and unplanned events can occur, when you venture into the forest – but that is what makes it so exciting! See you on another adventure next time in the Kehje Sewen Forest!

Text by: Rika Safira, PRM Coordinator for RHOI at Headquarter