A SCHOOL FOR SUMATRA ORANGUTANS: WHERE YOUNG ANIMALS LEARN HOW TO CLIMB
Today, Ganteng climbs as a free orangutan through the Jantho rainforest. This is the result of a training programme which was developed especially for him. Now this programme shall benefit other young animals as well and prepare them faster and better for a life in freedom.
Ganteng was a shy four-year-old orangutan who was wary about the rainforest and who did not have a lot of self-confidence. Over the course of a year the orangutan protection programme team developed a training programme especially for him to prepare him for his life in freedom and to dispel his fear of the «big, wild jungle». The project was extremely successful: At the beginning of 2016 Ganteng, by now five-years old, could be released into the wild.
Now the orangutan protection programme team is in the process of developing Ganteng’s training programme further. The goal: To make sure the young orangutans who move from the rescue and nursing station to the release station have the necessary skillset required for a successful release into the wild. The team want to achieve a high rate of success and release the animals at a relatively young age. In July the first group of four-to-six-year-old orangutans will be taken to the Jantho release station. Like Ganteng before them the young animals will receive one-on-one care and the team will teach them how to climb on trees, build nests and find food. In the «rainforest school» the «candidates» for a release shall also get to know orangutans who had already been released into the wild. Programme coordinator Jennifer Draiss explains: «The younger the animals are the easier it is for them to adapt to their natural behaviour and to learn from the wild orangutan. This makes it possible to release them sooner into their natural home.»
A nursery too
The rainforest school in the Jantho release station focuses on four-to-six-year-old orangutans who came into the rescue and nursing station as babies and who are now ready to be released. In parallel with the further development of the training programme in the release station a rainforest school was also established in the quarantine station, a nursery so to say. There, already the smallest animals learn what the life of a wild orangutan entails. This forms the basis for their later release into the wild. Every afternoon and in small groups the one-to-four-year-old orangutans develop their climbing and problem solving skills in the newly established climbing garden where they find many ropes, hammocks and swings and search for hidded food baskets. «It did not take very long until we could observe young animals who tried to get to the next tree and to the fruit baskets as swiftly as possible,” Jennifer Draiss explains not without pride. “At first some young animals were very nervous and frightened of their new environment. But now they climb into trees immediately and only come back down when it is time for their milk!»