The Jakarta Post
An orangutan named Otan at the Tegal Alur Animal Conservation, Jakarta, in July 2018, about to be translocated to the Foundation for Sustainable Ecosystem - Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program. (Antara/Rivan Awal Lingga)
The Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF) released six orangutans into the Kehje Sewen Forest in East Kutai, East Kalimantan, this week in celebration of Indonesia's 73rd anniversary of independence.
"This wisdom of independence also applies to animals, especially as orangutans are animals protected by the state," BOSF chief executive officer Jamartin Sihite said in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, on Monday, as quoted by Antara news agency.
The orangutans had for years learned how to survive in the wild while living in the Reintroduction Center in Samboja Lestari, 47 km north of Balikpapan.
Sihite further stressed the importance of conserving the critically endangered animals, saying that orangutans played an important role in the forest ecosystem.
Orangutans are a mobile species whose movements and exploration throughout the forest maintain the ecosystem's biodiversity and regeneration.
"They spread seeds through their feces. Orangutans also slightly open up the forest canopy so that sunlight can enter and reach the forest floor, helping small trees to grow," Sihite said.
In turn, the forests provide benefits by providing clean water and air, various forest products, as well as maintaining the climate.
Read also: Effectively saving Kalimantan's orangutan
The six orangutans released did not all come from Samboja Lestari. Two of them, 11-year-old Menur and Josta, had been living on the pre-release island of Juq Kehja Swen, a forest area of 82.84 hectares surrounded by wide ditches and rivers on the edge of the palm oil plantation of PT Nusaraya Agro Sawit in Muara Wahau, East Kutai.
The remaining four are all males, namely 8-year-old Mads, Riva and Biber, both 7, and 6-year-old Restu.
In the past few years, the BOSF has involved many parties in the conservation of orangutans, including parties that were previously considered to have no connection to animal welfare, such as banks and even palm oil plantations.
"This is because the great conservation work cannot be handled only by the BKSDA [Natural Resources Conservation Agency] and the BOSF. We also need to involve many business entities that previously did not play much of a role," East Kalimantan BKSDA head Sunandar Trigunajasa said. (liz/wng)