• Zoe Cawthorn

Hope for Bornean Orangutans: Successful NGO Partnership Releases Orangutans Back into the Wild

Updated: Oct 5, 2019

In a superb joint effort by the Borneo Orangutan Survival (BOS) Foundation and the East Kalimantan Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA), 4 more adult orangutans have been released into wild, natural habitat in Borneo. Since 2012, the BOS Foundation has released a total of 426 orangutans at three release sites in Central Kalimantan.

Orangutans are one of our closest living relatives - in fact we share 97% of our DNA with them. And yet, failure to protect these great apes from deforestation due to agriculture, and from the illegal pet trade, has left the species critically endangered according to the IUCN. By forming a long-lasting partnership, the BOS Foundation and BKSDA have managed not only to rescue and rehabilitate orangutans suffering the consequences of human-wildlife conflicts in Borneo, but also to acquire and protect suitable habitat to release the orangutans back into the wild. One of these release sites is Kehje Sewen Forest (which translates as ‘orangutan’ in the local Dayak Wehea language). This 86,450-hectare Ecosystem Restoration Concession forest in East Kutai Regency is now home to 115 orangutans that have been rescued and rehabilitated by the BOS Foundation. The forest was acquired in 2010 and will be protected for a minimum of 60 years at a cost of US$1.4million, which was made possible with funding from donors and the BOS Foundation’s global partner organisations in Europe and Australia.


This latest release meant freedom for two male orangutans: Randy (27) and Arman (22) and two females: Marlies (20), and Sumirah (25), after extensive rehabilitation at the Samboja Lestari Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre.

The four orangutans made the difficult 3-day journey by truck with their human team. But now, finally free, these great apes can begin their new lives in their protected natural habitat, wild orangutans once again.


This release was the fifth orangutan release in East Kalimantan this year for the BOS Foundation. However, there are still many orangutans being cared for at the Samboja Lestari Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. Dr. Ir. Jamartin Sihite, the CEO of BOS Foundation, said,

"The Kehje Sewen Forest is fast approaching its maximum capacity for accommodating rehabilitated orangutans… ...there is only space for 35 more. We urgently need to find new forest release areas under the IUPHHK-RE scheme, and we need support from all parties to acquire this.”

The wonderful work that has been done by this partnership brings great hope for the conservation of Bornean orangutans. Continued support for these wonderful NGOs will enable the remaining rescued orangutans, and those still in need of rescue, to live wild and free once more.


Find out more:

The BOS Foundation is a non-profit Indonesian organisation dedicated to the conservation of Bornean orangutans and their habitats. It works together with local communities, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry of the Republic of Indonesia, and international partner organisations. Further information about recent orangutan releases can be found on its website.



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