Pre-Release Programme at Sepilok


Our Post Release Monitoring Project in the Tabin Wildlife Reserve ran for over ten years. Rehabilitated orangutans from Sepilok were released to live freely in this protected area of rainforest. The Tabin Reserve covers 1205km2 of protected rainforest, and is now home to over 25 of Sepilok’s rehabilitated orangutans. Our team tracked and observed the released orangutans to find out how they adapted to living in the wild.

This was the first project of its kind and attracted global attention. Many of the orangutans prospered and are successfully rearing a second generation of wild-born young. This has proved that Sepilok’s rehabilitation programme is giving orphaned orangutans the skills and confidence which they need to thrive in the wild.

The Post Release Monitoring project came to a close in 2017. The team are recording their data from the past ten years of research and have been able to leave these successfully released orangutans to live completely uninterrupted lives.

The focus turned to identifying individual orangutans who are living in the smaller Kabili Reserve surrounding Sepilok and might also be suitable for release into the larger Tabin Wildlife Reserve. We introduced a new Pre-Release programme at Sepilok aimed at tracking, monitoring and observing the behaviour of the rehabilitated orangutans living in the reserve there. These semi-wild orangutans have been released into the forest but they might still come back to visit the feeding platforms at the Centre or show off to the visitors! Some of these orangutans rely a bit too much on the centre's amenities and releasing them into a larger area away from humans would be beneficial to them and allow them to live more independently.

The orangutans are moved deeper into the Kabili reserve, away from the tourist areas and feeding platforms. They are offered some supplementary feeding to begin with to encourage them to stay in that area and not return to the centre. They are then monitored by designated staff to assess how self-sufficient they currently are in skills such as climbing, foraging and nest building and gauge their future ability in the wild.

If the results are positive, they will then move be released into the large Tabin Wildlife Reserve where they will continue to be monitored for an initial trial period.

Our Pre-Release Programme is just one of the many ways we help orangutan conservation. If you would like to support this and other projects that we run, you can donate to the charity by visiting our Donations Page. Thank you.