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Who remembers Petto? We have missed him since our Post-Release Monitoring (PRM) team from the Himba Pambelum Monitoring Camp in Bukit Baka Bukit Raya National Park Area (TNBBBR), Central Kalimantan last encountered him in August 2022.

About a year later, they spotted Petto again near the Rangan Nongai area, which is known for its unique formation of rocks that are visible whenever the river water recedes. He was seated on a branch of a Keruing tree (Dipterocarpus retusus) around 11-15 meters above ground level. At first glance, they could see his physical condition was very good and they observed that he was still very active. Throughout the day, they watched as Petto foraged for bamboo shoots, Ketepeng leaves (Senna alata), rattan piths, and orchids. He was also observed devouring ants and termites. Petto’s wide diet demonstrates that he has a healthy, large range of food preferences.

In addition to being watched eating, Petto was spotted also creating nests, making vocalisations, and keeping a distance from his observers. His behavior has grown more wild over the past year, as several times he took to the ground to show his aggressive nature by shaking trees.  Fortunately, the team was able to back off so Petto returned to the woods and eventually lost sight of our team.

Petto was a calm orangutan before his release, normally unbothered by human presence. However, this recent encounter with him has shown the PRM team that if free and given the choice, Petto is an orangutan who has accepted his solitary nature and no longer wishes for any human contact. Wild orangutans establish home ranges that they will defend from others and to see Petto fully embracing a wilder disposition in the forest brings us true joy.

This experience also serves as an important reminder that, although human contact is unavoidable during rehabilitation, orangutans are still wild animals who belong in their natural habitat where they should not be disturbed by humans. In such a challenging place to survive, it is this behaviour that allows them to live successfully in the wild, give birth to the next generation, and support the healthy functioning of these critical, tropical ecosystems.

Besides Petto, there are about 400 individual orangutans awaiting release in our rehabilitation centers both in Central and East Kalimantan. You can also support and follow every stage of their rehabilitation by adopting today!

Text by: PRM Team at Himba Pambelum Monitoring Camp, TNBBBR, Central Kalimantan

Will you help us rescue, rehabilitate and release orangutans back to freedom? Thank you!

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