Rescued Orangutans Released Back Into The Wild

Posted on September 21st 2018

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A pair of orangutans, mother and son, were recently released back into their original habitat after having undergone an intense period of rehabilitation. The International Animal Rescue in partnership with the West Borneo Forestry Department returned the mother and son back to the wild after a period of three years. The mother whose name is Maili had been at the Indonesian rehab centre since 2015 and her son was obviously born in captivity.

Helping rescued orangutans cope with life in the wild

The word orangutan is Malaysian and means person of the forest. This species of great ape has a life span of between 30 to 40 years in the wild. After being rescued from captivity, Maili was brought to the International Animal Rescue centre where she was placed on an artificial island designed to replicate natural habitat with a number of other rescued orangutans. The conservation group hopes that the rescued apes will develop their behaviour and natural instincts for survival in the wild.

Data driven approach to release

The rescued orangutans have been divided into groups which are being closely monitored to see which individuals may be ready to be released. When an orangutan is identified, he or she is moved into a special area where behavioural data is gathered. That data informs the decision to return the orangutan to the wild by letting the conservationists know they are both psychologically and physically ready. Maili has been monitored for release since early last year, after which it was revealed that she was pregnant. As a result, her return was postponed for a month in order for her to give birth.

Nine hour journey back to the wild

Maili’s son Osin is about a year and a half old and observers say he is developing well and his mother displays good natural behaviour. As a result, the group chose to release mother and child into a forest near Mount Tarak in Indonesian Borneo. Twelve local villagers assisted with the release, carrying Maili and Osin in a transport cage first by road and then into the forest for a trip that lasted nearly nine hours.

Orangutans cling to their mum’s

Childhood lasts for about six years with orangutans who nurse and depend on their mothers until that age. This is actually the longest childhood dependence of any species with the exception of humans. Young male orangutans tend to hang around with there mothers even after finishing nursing and often cling to them for a few more years. The species only gives birth once every eight years which means that if they suffer a population decline, it can be a real struggle for the population to recover. The mother and son will continue to be monitored by International Animal Rescue for the next couple of years to ensure they thrive.

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