The theme for this year’s International Day of Forests (21 March) is ‘forests and health’. It provides an opportunity to reflect on the important role that forests play in our lives and whether our national environmental laws, which are currently under review, are doing enough to ensure that future generations...
It is always a great moment at HSI when we get the latest field report from one of our international project partners and I wanted to share a few highlights from The Orangutan Project’s latest update from the Bukit Tigapuluh (BTP) ecosystem.
We were delighted to hear that the Jungle School for young rehabilitating orangutans opened back up at the end of last year, after being forced to reduce activity because of COVID-19.
This gave the seven orangutans in care the chance to play again and build their strength and forest skills, greatly reducing the stress and boredom they faced as a result of being locked down due to the pandemic.
Several juveniles are still receiving supplemental food from carers to lure them outside the cage and encourage them to stay in the canopy. During Jungle School all juveniles stayed in the canopy (10-15 metres above the ground) and several of them are excelling in their studies and climbing more than 25 metres above the ground.
However, two named Femi and Rosi still often played on the ground so both had to be chased off the ground by their trainers. It is vital for their survival that they learn to stay in the canopy as much as possible.
Regular work schedules were also reinitiated for staff and COVID-19 antigen testing was introduced instead of the earlier rapid testing. This new regulation allowed staff to work as normal without compromising health protocols. Therefore, orangutan monitoring increased and supplemental food was regularly provided for juvenile orangutans and Sam the nursing female.
Femi continues to learn from Violet and Raja Tori to successfully forage for fruits. She consumed less supplemental food because she gave her supplements to Citrawan (food sharing). One adult male named Rocky was released into the Bukit Tigapuluh National Park.
The team also received two juvenile orangutans from Khao Prathubchang Wildlife Rescue Center in Thailand in December. Both orangutans are now undergoing quarantine at the headquarters in Jambi until all medical check-ups are finalised. They will then be able to travel to BTP and join the Jungle School.
We look forward to hearing future updates from the team as the orangutans return to the wild, but remain safe under the vigilant eyes of the Wildlife Protection Units.
Erica Martin is the CEO of Humane Society International Australia. Erica joined HSI in 2017 after working for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) as the Vice President of Global Communications based in the USA. Prior to that she was the Regional Director for IFAW Asia Pacific, based in Sydney. Erica also has a wealth of experience in government relations having previously worked for the Australian Federal Government as Director of Communications for the then Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts in Canberra.