The Nyaru Menteng Sanctuary
The Nyaru Menteng Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre in Indonesian Borneo is dealing on a daily basis with the fall-out from the destruction of the rainforests. There are over 600 orangutans at this centre in Central Kalimantan, which is operated by Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation. Some of these are orphans whose mothers were brutally slaughtered – by workers in the oil palm plantations – whilst searching for food amidst the devastation of their habitat. Others are victims of poaching and the illegal pet trade, and have been rescued from a life of incarceration and utter misery.
They are likely to spend between 10 and 12 years at the Centre, where they are loved, cared for and put through a gradual process of rehabilitation. The eventual aim is to release – into safe and protected areas of rainforest – those who will be able to adapt to life in their natural habitat, and to fend for themselves in the wild.
When these little orangutans are brought into Nyaru Menteng, they are nurtured 24 hours a day by a team of dedicated local Dayak men and women, and once they’re old enough, they are taken into the forest on daily excursions, to learn how wild orangutans live. They’re taught how to forage, to climb trees, build nests and are alerted to the dangers that exist in the forest.
At the age of about 8 years, those who are ready for the first stage in their release are relocated, in groups of about 25, to a neighbouring island, where they live a semi-wild existence for at least 18 months to two years. They are, however, fed daily and monitored, to check for illness, injury or an inability to adapt to their new lifestyle, and only those who are absolutely ready to return to the wild will be released.
Adult orangutans who are injured, ill or starving, and unable to fend for themselves in the wild, are also taken in by Nyaru Menteng. They are nursed back to health by the on-site veterinary team – although with as little human contact as possible, so that they can be released back into the wild at the earliest opportunity, once they’re completely fit and well again.