Appeal needs help funding critical research

Could we do better?

This is the question we have been asking ourselves for quite some time!

For 40 years Sepilok Rehab Centre has been releasing rehabilitated individuals into the Kabilli Reserve, which surrounds the Centre. In more recent years the more advanced orangutans have been relocated to Tabin and other reserves where they can be truly wild. BUT WE DON'T KNOW HOW WELL THEY COPE and Sepilok do not have the funds to find out!

Are they able to travel through the canopy without coming to ground as their truly wild cousins do? Can they locate a fruiting tree? Do they recognize dangers such as clouded leopards, pythons, sun bears etc etc. Have they been prepared for life in the wild? We just don't know!

It was just this scenario that started us thinking we should be finding out the answers to these questions. Because it is very very difficult to follow and observe these beautiful apes, as far as we are aware, this research has never been followed through but is an area which could make such a huge difference to our rehabilitation system and eventually boost the failing population.

As a result, the Appeal has decided to take this area of research on board and our in-house primeatologist, Sheena Hynd, has agreed to lead the project.

Initially, we need to run a pilot to assess the best method of obtaining this information in the quickest and most reliable fashion. Sheena has chosen two individuals to study, from four categories - juveniles, adolescent, adult and wild. Along with the help of the rangers from the Centre acting as guides, she will be following them and recording their activities during the next six months. At times this will be a very unpleasant task, as Sheena well knows. The rainy season brings the leaches out in their thousands along with the danger of falling trees and swamped rainforest, sleeping under the canopy has its own traumas!

Falling debris from their meals need to be identified, nests need to be counted and movements recorded with the help of a hand held GPS navigation system. All of this is, of course, is only possible once she has learned to recognize each individual orangutan, which in itself will take some doing!

The eventual aim of this research will be to transfer the study to Tabin Reserve, where released individuals can be monitored and assessed in a truly wild setting. The findings will be used to improve the rehabilitation process and ensure our very best is being done to save our beautiful cousins.

All this does not come cheap!! Just the initial pilot is expected to cost in excess of £6,000. We are actively seeking support for this vital research to go ahead and were amazed when a family, who in their hour of greatest despair at the loss of their son, offered help. The Parry Family decided that rather than have money spent on floral tributes for their much loved son Duncan, they would collect donations and support our research project in Duncan's memory as he would have much preferred this. As a result the Project received £1,300.00, enough to get it started!

This is just the beginning, so please help us take this project forward!

Click here to make a donation.