The Bornean Orangutan Rescue Alliance (BORA)—a joint initiative of the Indonesian Nature Conservation Agency (BKSDA), Center for Orangutan Protection, and The Orangutan Project—has released 2 critically endangered Bornean orangutans into the Busang Ecosystem. This ecosystem is among the last standing viable rainforest habitats for orangutans on the island of Borneo.
According to an organizational release,1 18-year-old Ucokwati and her 8-year-old daughter Mungil were considered eligible for release after successfully finishing rehabilitation at the BORA Rescue & Rehabilitation Center in East Kalimantan. Prior, they were cared for at the Wildlife Rescue Center in Yogyakarta on the Indonesian island of Java. Ucokwati was introduced to the Center after being rescued from an amusement park in October 2011.
When the Wildlife Rescue Center closed due to financial difficulties associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, the duo was translocated to the BORA Center in April 2021.
“We don’t know how long Ucokwati had been held in captivity at the park,” said Hardi Baktiantoro, field manager for The Orangutan Project and founder of the Center for Orangutan Protection, in the release. “As with most orangutans that end up in such places like these, it is highly probable that she was taken from her mother as an infant and sold into the illegal pet trade.”
“Both had demonstrated advanced foraging and nest-making skills, as well as a healthy dislike for humans,” Baktiantoro said. “Ucokwati is particularly aggressive towards humans, no doubt due to her ill-treatment while in captivity, and this made her a prime candidate to successfully transition back into the wild.”
Ucokwati and Mungil were released onto Dalwood-Wylie Island, located in the Busang Ecosystem. The journey consisted of a 10-hour expedition by road from the BORA Center and then a 3-hour expedition by boat along the Busang River.
Their release onto the island offers the mother and daughter to experience the freedom of life in the wild while also remaining closely monitored by staff from BORA. According to the release, the Center predicts they will make a full transition back to the wild within a few months as they become more independent and explore the Busang Ecosystem.1
“We are currently living in the most important decade in the history of our planet for survival species,” said Leif Cocks, founder of The Orangutan Project.
“We are facing an extinction crisis, unlike anything we have ever seen before due to the ongoing impact of habitat loss and the illegal trade of wildlife that has devastated populations of many animal species and led to an unprecedented loss of biodiversity.”
Two additional male orangutans under the care at BORA will also be released into the Busang Ecosystem later this month. The alliance aims to secure and protect viable ecosystems such as the Busang Ecosystem to perpetuate the survival of critically endangered orangutans.
“The release of orangutans like Ucokwati and Mungil back to the wild gives hope that we can revert the impending extinction crisis,” Cocks said. “But we cannot do it alone. We need more individuals to join us to secure and protect viable rainforest habitat before it is too late.”
Orangutan mother and daughter released back to the wild. News release. The Orangutan Project. May 19, 2022. Accessed May 20, 2022. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/orangutan-mother-and-daughter-released-back-to-the-wild-301550870.html