Six released into reserve

Jomius Releasing Youngsters

Monday 20th March 2006 started off as a normal day for a group of 6 orangutans at Sepilok, but this was no ordinary day, this was the day that they were going to be finally released back into the wild in the Kabili reserve which surrounds the centre.

Tobby, Kimbol, Suzanna, Brock, Tompong and Annalisa have been resident at Sepilok for different lengths of time, but they all share a too familiar story of tragedy and loss which resulted in them being brought to the centre. This was the day though where their stories moved onto the next chapter, a new life awaited them in the forest.

Firstly, we had to transport them to the outdoor nursery, which is where they were to spend a week in a large enclosure in the forest. This area acts as a halfway house allowing the orangutan’s time to adjust to their new surroundings and to get used to the strange animals and noises that they will encounter when released. Moving 6 orangutans to this area is not easy, but it’s best to move them together and what better way than by wheelbarrow!!

Everybody at Sepilok was unsure how they would react when they were released. Would they be scared and get picked on by the older orangutans or would they do the bullying. It was just a matter of waiting and watching. As soon as they were released into the enclosure Kimbol and Tobby climbed straight up the sides of the enclosure and were immediately interested in everything that was going on around them. The other orangutans were slightly more nervous though, deciding that it was safer to stay in the wheelbarrow, however with a little bit of encouragement they were soon climbing around.

Everyone minus TobbyThe other orangutans in the area soon took an interest in the new arrivals and before long were playing with them through the enclosure bars. After a few days the new guys were so settled that Elis (Sepilok ranger) decided that the time had come to release them from the enclosure for the day. During the past few days the youngsters had watched the other ones being fed on the platforms and as soon as the door was open and they saw the food, they were off towards it, well all except Tobby. He decided that he didn’t want any food and would rather explore his new surroundings and quickly made off in the opposite direction.

They all settled in quickly to the new area and were soon enjoying playing with the other orangutans there, but some were still a little nervous of the adult orangutans like Gurmaboi, a rather large adolescent male, but who could blame them really! It didn’t take Tompong long to find an old nest half way up a nearby tree which she seemed to have great fun rearranging for herself before spending the rest of the day in it. In fact she liked it so much that the rangers couldn’t get her down and back in the enclosure with the others for the night!

After a couple more nights in the enclosure the orangutans were ready to be fully released, so the enclosure door was opened for the last time and they were free. Some of them disappeared up the trees, whilst others found more comfort staying close to the area that they know until they got their bearings. Hopefully it won’t be long though before they go off into the reserve and back to where they belong. We will keep you posted on their story.