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An orangutan release is the final stage of an often lengthy and challenging rehabilitation process. The culmination of this process is the return of orangutans to their forest homes where they can naturally contribute to the ecosystem and help preserve its unique biodiversity. In reality, returning orangutans to their natural habitat is more complex than it seems. Behind every single successful release, are many essential steps and a wealth of important milestones the orangutans must reach.

Beginning release preparations is one of the most exciting experiences for our Post-Release Monitoring (PRM) staff. Whenever a release is planned, our PRM teams must take on extra work in addition to their monitoring duties to ensure the release will proceed smoothly once the orangutans arrive on site. Our PRM team from Camp Nles Mamse, in the southern section of the Kehje Sewen Forest, recently went to Camp Lesik in the northern section of the Kehje Sewen Forest to help with these release preparations.

(Photo Credit: BOSF | Ariella)

This team – consisting of Lirin, Welem, Rustam and Ransik – worked tirelessly with preparations, which included renovating the camp area and its facilities. The team also cleared the transects that will be used to move transport cages to release locations, cleaned the helipad, and prepared a temporary camp for use during the release. Considering the recent release schedule, this last month was one of the busiest times for our PRM team members. As always, the team will also need to undertake nest-to-nest monitoring for several weeks following the release of orangutans, to ensure their successful adjustment to the new environment.

While this is exhausting work for our PRM team, it also provides important lessons in teamwork, coordination, and management. Of course, there are many moments not captured on camera that leave an enduring impression on our team members. Teamwork makes the dream work!

Text by: PRM Team in the Kehje Sewen Forest, East Kalimantan

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

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