Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Reintroduction Project

The Nyaru Menteng Care Centre is located in the province of Central Kalimantan. It is located within the boundaries of the Nyaru Menteng Arboretum, a 62.5 ha lowland peat-swamp forest ecosystem, founded in 1988 by the Ministry of Forestry Regional office of Central Kalimantan. The Nyaru Menteng Care Centre currently holds hundreds of orangutans, all of whom were either illegally held as pets or were victims of habitat destruction. The ultimate aim of the programme is to reintroduce these orangutans back into the wild and provide long-term protection to the orangutans and their precious remaining habitat.

The first orangutan releases were carried out in 2012 in the Batikap Hill Conservation Forest in Central Kalimantan. The releases were the culmination of three years work including carrying out surveys to identify a suitable site for reintroduction, gaining stakeholder support, preparing a release strategy, establishing basic infrastructure and initiating a programme of community awareness, integration and development. Agreements were signed with the local and regional governments and full ceremonial blessings were received from the two villages that are local to the release forest.

The Batikap Hill Conservation forest is one of the most remote regions of Indonesia. It is accessible overland by road and rivers in a journey that takes three days from the regional capital of Palangkaraya. 35,000 ha of low elevation, primary rainforest was chosen as the orangutan reintroduction area. Over 80 orangutans have now been released. The focus is now on providing the best possible post-release care and monitoring to ensure that the orangutans have an excellent chance at survival. Released orangutans will be monitored using radio-tracking equipment to locate them in the forest. Detailed behavioural observations will be made to check that they are adapting well. Supplementary feeding and veterinary care will be provided if required. The results of the monitoring will be reported widely since little information on the success of orangutan reintroduction has been collected.

The overall conservation aim of this project is to re-establish a viable orangutan population in the Batikap Hill Conservation Forest. There is evidence to suggest this extensive lowland forest used to contain a wild orangutan population, and reintroducing orangutans here will reverse the trend of population loss that has placed the Bornean orangutan at risk of extinction.