The Australian tour of Back to the Wild: How to Release an Orangutan in Two Hours will be in Lismore tonight and Byron Bay tomorrow.
A project 10 years in the making by animal welfare organisation, Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOS) has been successfully rolled out this year, with the historic world-first release of 29 human rehabilitated orangutans back into the Bornean wild. A further 20 are scheduled for release by year’s end, with another 100 orangutans due for release in 2013, signalling a major breakthrough in the fight to save the endangered orangutans of Borneo.
Two of the leaders of this landmark program in Indonesia, Program Manager Anton Nurcahyo and Senior Scientific Advisor, Simon Husson will be visiting Australia’s Northern Rivers this October for two public lectures (in Lismore and Byron Bay) that will for the first time provide personal accounts of this decade-long innovative program to rehabilitate orphaned orangutans and teach them, over a period of years, to live in the wild, before releasing them into protected forest in Borneo to live as nature intended. The pair will also provide an exclusive update on how the ‘Orangutan School’ graduates are faring in their new forest homes.
Having been painstakingly taught life skills including climbing, nest-building, sourcing food and identifying threats, the 29 ‘graduates’ are being monitored closely and discretely by specially trained BOS ‘guardians’ to ensure they remember their schooling and are safe and well.
‘Due to hunting, logging and deforestation for timber and palm oil plantations, the orangutan population has been in steady decline for the past few decades, and only 33 groups of orangutans of a viable size remain in Borneo today,’ said Tony Gilding, President of the BOS Australia. ‘Without the tireless efforts of Anton, Simon and the entire BOS team on the ground at our rehabilitation and reintroduction centre in Borneo, these amazing creatures, who share 98 per cent of our human DNA, could be extinct within the next decade,’ he said.
‘Running the largest great ape reintroduction program in the world is extremely challenging, with literally hundreds of people and thousands of dollars required for each individual release,’ said Simon Husson, Senior Scientific Advisor to Nyaru Menteng’s BOS Reintroduction Centre. ‘But it makes us very happy that we’re able to give the orangutans a better future and a new, safe home for the rest of their lives,’ he said.
Yet while the rehab-and-release program is off to a flying start, the battle to save the orangutans is far from over. More than 600 orangutans are being kept in two Indonesian sanctuaries, ready for release into some 200,000 hectares of protected forest, however additional funds are urgently required to make these releases possible.
‘The journey for each orangutan back into the wild – including airlifting each primate to the release site in an effort to minimise the trauma of their relocation – encompasses a ticket price of AU $9,450,’ said Gilding. ‘The public lectures will serve as an opportunity to educate Australian about the plight of the orangutans, with all proceeds from the ticket cost going directly to the Borneo Orangutan Survival Release Fund,’ he said.
Thursday 11 October, Lismore Bowling Club, Molesworth Street, Lismore
This event will also include a segment on the inspiring work done by locals Ecoteam Australia and Nik Hyde, who have visited Anton’s Orangutan Care Centre four times in the last year and installed a custom designed Waste Management System. This voluntary programme by northern rivers experts is a wonderful example of local business reaching out to assist with overseas projects
Friday 12 October, Byron Bay Community Centre, SCU Room, Byron Community Centre, opposite Tourist Information Centre
All events start at 7pm and will conclude by 9pm.
Ticket are $20 (adults) / $10 (Children & Concession)