BOS Nyaru Menteng
The Standoff © Orangutan Outreach
The BOS Nyaru Menteng Reintroduction Center was founded in 1999 by Lone Dröscher Nielsen and Odom Kisar. Today it is home to more than 600 orphaned and displaced orangutans and has hundreds of employees.
The center is based 28 km North of Palangka Raya in the Province of Central Kalimantan in the Indonesian part of Borneo, and since its humble beginnings has now become the world’s largest orangutan conservation facility with numerous cages, island, clinics, vehicles, training forests and hundreds of staff.
The forest around the center serves as the perfect place when the young orangutans are taught how to survive in the wild. Five small islands in the river nearby are used as the first home for the orangutans as they begin their new lives without their caretakers. The center also has its own fruit-plantation and a big nature reserve, which the orangutans can be released into once they are ready for a life in freedom.
The Nyaru Menteng Work-staff consists of 200 people; this number consists of babysitters, tecknisi, assistants, people working in the medical department, guards and other workers. The number of orphaned orangutans in Nyaru Menteng is now approximately 610.
The center lies in a forest area, which for a while has been functioning as a wild, botanic garden. It has been under the responsibility of the rainforest authorities, and can therefore display a rich diversity in both plants and wildlife. The forest is a frequently used recreational area by the students at the university in Palangka Raya, and in the weekends, people also come from the city to walk in the forest. It is not possible for the visitors to get in too close contact with the orangutans at the center. The orangutans are trained to become wild and it is therefore imperative that they have as little contact with human beings as possible.
“The Workers’ Village” All the employees are, if possible, hired from the areas closest to the center. But as more and more people are needed, it has become necessary to hire people from areas further away. So right next to the main entrance of the center, a small village has been build, which has a common-house that all employees can use freely.
The Islands: Orangutan University
These islands are the penultimate step in the rehabilitation of orphaned orangutans.
There are 5 river islands: Kaja, Palas 1 and 2, Hampapak Matei and Bangamat. They are all islands in the Rongan River, which runs behind the clinic in Nyaru Menteng. From there, there is a mere 8 km drive to the small town of Sei Gohong, which is the most important harbor in the area. There are only primitive feeding-platforms and jetties on the islands.
Orangutans who have gone through the rehabilitation process end up here for at least 2 dry seasons and one wet season to make sure they can cope with the fluctuations in food availability. They are given supplemental food twice a day, but in the dry season we do not increase the amount. We prefer the orangutans to understand that there are lean times when they have to depend more on leaves– just as they would in the wild. The islands are large and hold as many as 50 or more individuals. In the wild they would of course be more spread out because of the dispersal of food resources necessitate this. On the islands with the supplemental feedings they are in much closer proximity to one another. Some will become naturally more independent and solitary and others will remain in small groups, learning and exploring together, but they will also eventually start to go their own way– which is a good sign. They will be released in the wild in small groups as well, where they will have the choice to stay together or to venture out more on their own.
The orangutans must all be sighted at least once a day by staff. Otherwise they are considered missing and an immediate search party goes out until the orangutan is found. This allows us to intervene if the orangutan is in trouble, injured or very ill. It can take days on the larger islands to locate a missing orangutan so the teams must act quickly. There is 24/7 security for the islands, but the posts are on the opposite banks to ensure minimal interaction with humans.
Ready to leave
Presently there are a number of orangutans that have spent well over the required time on the islands and are well and truly ready for release back to the wild. For this we require additional funding, and we must wait for the wet season to return to give them the best possible chance when they are first released. BOS has just released the first group of rehabilitated orangutans! Learn more about the orangutans and read their story here.
It is crucial for us to release this group and continued to release more orangutans in order to make room on the islands for the next group who are ready to leave Forest School. We need your support!
Choice of Islands
We never displace any human settlements. We only choose uninhabited islands. These are usually owned by neighboring communities on the bank with whom we negotiate a fair fee for the use of the island and for their commitment to keep off it and to keep it safe. Some communities try to push their luck and ask ridiculously high prices and it is hard work for us to negotiate these, but it is essential we do not overpay or we will find ourselves spending much more than we can afford on these islands. One of the costs associated with acquiring an island is the surveys to determine just how good it is likely to be for the orangutans, as well as how safe it is from intruders and from absconders. In some parts the river significantly dries up in dry season and if given the opportunity, some orangutans may wander off the island. To prevent this, we must build fences and put in some security posts. The series Orangutan Island on Animal Planet looks at the inhabitants of the islands.
The series Orangutan Island features Kaja Island, the first island acquired by Nyaru Menteng and home to some of our top orangutan students. These guys are fiercely independent and have no interest in humans. They are first on the list to be released to the wild. In order to do this, we need your help.
Visit Animal Planet’s Orangutan Island website
The Information Center
Education and information are important tools in the fight against illegal cutting of forest and killings of orangutans. Therefore local schools are invited to visit the center, and information campaigns about alternatives to the cutting are send out all over Borneo. On Sundays the information center is open to everyone.
Please make a donation to BOS Nyaru Menteng today.