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Reintroduction to the wild

In the two reintroduction stations in the Bukit Tigapuluh National Park and the Jantho Nature Reserve, the orangutans are carefully prepared for life in their natural environment. If they are ready to live in freedom, they are gradually released while being continually monitored.

BACKGROUND

The first reintroduction station at the Bukit Tigapuluh National Park in the province of Jambi is maintained by the Frankfurt Zoological Society. In 2010 the provincial government of Aceh demanded that all orangutans originating from Aceh also be set free there. This is why PanEco’s Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme set up a new reintroduction station in the Jantho Nature Reserve in the northernmost part of Sumatra.

From an ecological and a geographical perspective, the nature reserve is ideal for reintroducing orangutans to the wild. The rainforest there is very similar to the habitat of wild populations in Sumatra, has the natural food resources for the great apes and has little risk of conflicts with humans. Jantho is also under the highest possible protection status under Indonesian law, which means the best possible protection is ensured against illegal logging and poachers. To date, more than 60 orangutans have been successfully reintroduced to the wild.

RESETTLEMENT

Based on the experiences in the rescue and rehabilitation station, a group of orangutans is set up which will go well together in terms of age structure, gender and character. This group is then taken for resettlement to the stations in the Bukit Tigapuluh National Park or the Jantho Nature Reserve which have the same enclosure systems as the rescue and rehabilitation station. Here, qualified employees prepare the orangutans for life in the rainforest. They learn which plants they can use for food and where they can build a safe nest for the night. To prepare them properly, the individual orangutans are taken to the forest in the day time by the employees and are taken back to their enclosure again for the night. Depending on their age and condition, the animals remain in the station for between three weeks and several months before they can be released into the wilderness.

After they are released, the orangutans are monitored every day by a team from the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme. In this way, data is collected on their behaviour, food intake and also their social skills. These records provide information on whether the animals can survive by themselves or if support is needed. This continual monitoring improves the long-term chances of survival of the species.