A wild orangutan has been caught and moved to safety to avoid conflict with residents of a village in West Borneo.
The large male was translocated by a joint team from the Wildlife Rescue Unit (WRU) of the Natural Resources Conservation Centre (BKSDA), representatives from Gunung Palung National Park (TANAGUPA), IAR Indonesia and the Village Forest Management Agency of Penjalaan (LPHD.)
The orangutan was captured from the residents' garden in the village of Penjalaan, District of Simpang Hilir, District Kayong North, West Borneo and translocated on the same day.
At the end of March 2021, reports started coming in from locals in Penjalaan Village that there was an orangutan near the entrance to the residents' gardens. A team consisting of the BKSDA Kalimantan Barat, IAR Indonesia and the LPHD went to verify the reports and found the adult male orangutan eating the locals' coconut reeds.
The team tried to implement the human-orangutan conflict mitigation strategy in a bid to herd the orangutan back to its habitat. However, these efforts failed because the forest in that area had already been fragmented by fire in 2019.
The orangutan was monitored continuously by the combined teams for more than a month before finally being translocated to a safe and suitable location in early May.
It was decided to move the orangutan to the Tanagupa forest region in the area of Batu Barat Resort, Batu Barat Village, Simpang Hilir District, North Kayong Regency.
Based on the results of surveys and habitat feasibility studies, the area has a high level of safety, far from settlements, with abundant plants to feed on and a low orangutan population density.
The head of Gunung Palung National Park, M. Ari Wibawanto said in his written statement said that this was the second translocation of an orangutan to the National Park during 2021. During the first, in April 2021, another adult wild male orangutan was transferred to a similar location.
"We will continue to monitor the movement of orangutans while in the Gunung Palung area and ensure a safe and healthy life for them," said Ari.
Meanwhile, Director of Biodiversity Conservation, Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Indra Exploitasia, stated that the best efforts had been made by the government to ensure the survival of orangutans.
Currently, the government has designated some areas outside the forest as new pieces of land for orangutan habitat. It is expected that the new pieces of land will help maintain the survival and existence of Indonesia's endemic wildlife.
The first step towards translocating the orangutan, named Jala by the team, was to shoot him with a dart gun. Once the drug took effect, he fell into the net his rescuers were holding. The vets then conducted checks and took samples from the orangutan. The results were all normal.
Jala was estimated to be about 15 years old and was declared healthy and ready for immediate translocation. At the end of his lengthy journey, the moment the door of his transport crate opened, Jala emerged and climbed nimbly up a tree.
Karmele L Sanchez, Director of IAR Indonesia, thanked the residents of Penjalaan village for the action they took: "We greatly appreciate the action of the villagers and the owner of the coconut garden in reporting the existence of the orangutan rather than taking action themselves and creating a human-orangutan conflict situation. We are very happy that people are aware and understand how to deal with potential conflicts of this nature.
"Now is the time for all parties involved, whether NGOs, private companies, government agencies, communities and institutions to stand shoulder to shoulder and look for solutions on issues of habitat."