After completing rehabilitation at the BORA Rescue & Rehabilitation Centre in East Kalimantan, Indonesia, Bornean Orangutans Ucockwati, 18, and Mungil, 8, were deemed eligible for release.
A pair of Orangutans, mother and daughter, were released into their natural habitat.
According to a release from The Orangutan Project, Bornean Orangutans Ucokwati, 18, and Mungil, 8, moved to the wild in the first in a series of Orangutan releases planned for 2022 by the Bornean Orangutan Rescue Alliance (BORA) — a joint initiative of the Indonesian Nature Conservation Agency (BKSD), Centre for Orangutan Protection and The Orangutan Project.
Conservationists deemed the two primates eligible for release after the animals completed their rehabilitation at the BORA Rescue & Rehabilitation Centre in East Kalimantan, Indonesia.
“Both had demonstrated advanced foraging and nest-making skills, as well as a healthy dislike for humans,” Hardi Baktiantoro, a field manager for The Orangutan Project and Founder of the Centre for Orangutan Protection, shared. “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.”
Before BORA, the Orangutan duo lived at the Wildlife Rescue Centre in Yogyakarta on the Indonesian Island of Java. Ucokwati moved to the centre after being rescued from an amusement park in October 2011. She gave birth to her daughter at the centre in May 2013.
“We don’t know how long Ucokwati had been held in captivity at the park,” Hardi Baktiantoro added. “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.”
Due to financial difficulties caused by the pandemic, the rescue centre shut down. As a result, the mother-daughter duo moved to the BORA Centre in April 2021.
Ucokwati and Mungil now live on Dalwood-Wylie Island, located in the Busang Ecosystem, one of the last remaining viable rainforest habitats for Orangutans on the island of Borneo. The location is a 10-hour trip by vehicle from the BORA Centre followed by a three-hour boat ride along the Busang River.
The area was chosen for the release so BORA’s staff can monitor the apes while the animals adjust to life in the wild. The Orangutans’ rescuers expect Ucokwati and Mungil to venture further into the Busang Ecosystem as they become increasingly independent.
Two other male Orangutans are set to follow in the mother-daughter duo’s footsteps and will soon be released into the Busang Ecosystem. The releases are part of a mission to ensure the future survival of critically endangered Orangutans.
“The alliance has been granted approximately 20,000 hectares within the 260,000-hectare Busang Ecosystem to undertake Orangutan rehabilitation and release for critically endangered Bornean Orangutans,” Leif Cocks, the founder of The Orangutan Project, said.
“The release of Orangutans like Ucokwati and Mungil back to the wild gives hope that we can revert the impending extinction crisis,” Cocks added. “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.”
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