An Indonesian conservation organization has returned ten orangutans into the wild in Borneo after they were rescued from captivity.
The Borneo Orangutan Survival (BOS) Foundation, together with the Central and East Kalimantan Natural Resources Conservation Agencies (BKSDA), used helicopters to release five male and two female orangutans, including a mother-offspring pair back into the forests from the rehabilitation centers.
According to the BOS Foundation, seven of the critically endangered great apes were released deep into the Bukit Batikap Protection Forest in Central Kalimantan while the other three were released in the Kehje Sewen Ecosystem Restoration Forest in East Kalimantan.
The BOS Foundation and BKSDA said that the COVID-19 pandemic affected their work in conserving the Bornean orangutans and their habitat, with the BOS Foundation not being able to carry out orangutan release activities for a year.
“Efforts to help curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus have hampered many conservation-related activities,” BKSDA Acting Head Handi Nasoka said.
The BOS Foundation also said that the orangutans were tested for COVID-19 before being released.
“We have implemented strict health protocols, and introduced mitigation plans to be enacted in the event of an orangutan contracting to the virus,” BOS Foundation Chief Executive Jamartin Sihite said, explaining that the use of a helicopter helped reduced the risk of spreading COVID-19.
“We will continue to strive to prevent the transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 to orangutans, both those we care for and those who live freely in the wild,” Sihite also said.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, over half of Bornean orangutan population has been reduced for the last 60 years due to illegal poaching and deforestation, leaving about 104,700 Bornean orangutans in the wild.
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