BOSF Orangutan Releases: Vista, A Model Mother

Text by: Vivi Dwi Santi, Veterinarian in BOS Nyaru Menteng, Central Kalimantan

May 6, 2020 — In March, a Post-Release Monitoring (PRM) technician from the Lewun Kahiyo Orangutan Monitoring Post – in the Bemban watershed of the Bukit Baka Bukit Raya National Park – and I went in search of orangutan mother-son pair Vista and Vee, who were released in the forest in July 2018. As a veterinarian at the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, it was my turn in the rotation to work in the field.

Read also: Video: Mother-Infant Pairs Among Recent Release Group

The forests of Bemban are extremely hilly and stretch across countless steep slopes. The existing transects did not help us on this day, as the plants had already grown very dense. There were not many areas we could easily pass, and we had to walk up and down the rough terrain to find an orangutan.

Just before noon, we finally located Vista and Vee, and quickly set up our observation equipment to start collecting data on them.

Observing Vista and Vee

Vista and Vee were sitting atop a tall matoa (Pometia pinnata) tree. Their position made it difficult for us to get a visual without the use of binoculars. The two were savouring the tree’s fruit, known locally as rosciu. Over the course of our observations, 3-year-old Vee moved slightly away from her mother, but stayed within a safe distance. She occasionally glanced over at us as she played with young leaves and nibbled on them.

While eating, Vista and Vee dropped some rosciu fruits on the ground. Out of curiosity, technician Domi and I decided to have a taste, and discovered that the fruit was uniquely sweet! Thank you, Vista and Vee, for sharing this knowledge!

Rosciu fruits

After getting her fill of fruit, Vista climbed down to the ground in search of termites, with Vee tightly clinging to her belly. Vista found a nest of termites in a rotten tree trunk and immediately started devouring them. Vee did not seem interested in trying the protein-rich termites like her mom, but there is still plenty of time for her to learn about termites from Vista in the future.


The following day, we continued our observations of Vista and Vee. However, the weather was not as favourable as the previous day, and the sky soon turned dark. While we were monitoring the pair, a sudden, heavy downpour struck. Vista quickly grabbed the leaf of a large Asian palmyra palm (Borassus flabbelifer), known locally as silar, to cover her and her baby’s heads! The pair immediately sought refuge under the thick forest canopy and disappeared out of sight.

We completed our day’s observations on a high note, impressed by Vista’s forest knowhow and her use of a plant as an umbrella. Vee is very lucky to have such a smart mother in Vista, who can teach her all about life in the forest!

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