Monday, October 22, 2012

Rehabilitated Sepilok orangutans need support or they will die

KOTA KINABALU: Orangutans that have undergone rehabilitation at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in Sandakan still need support after they are released to the wild.

Primatologist James Robins, who has been studying the rehabilitated orangutans that have been released in small numbers in Tabin, found that among the plight faced by the primates after their release to the wild, was that they struggled to provide themselves with sufficient nutrition.

Some of the orangutans take a long time to settle down, and some never really do, he said.

“Recently, we had to return an orangutan to Sepilok because he left Tabin and was found outside a plantation. He was being fed by the plantation workers. It is fortunate that we have good relationship with plantations and the Sabah Wildlife Department,” he said.

And last year, Robins said they found a couple of the orangutans that had been released back into the wild, dead.

“It was a sad event,” he noted.

Robins added that prior to this, no one had done any research on how the rehabilitated orangutans were faring once they were released into the wild.

“After they are released, no one actually knows what happens (to them). But I guarantee, if you stay long enough, you would know what eventually happens to each of the orangutans (released). We release small groups of them in Tabin so that we can stay in regular contact with them. We follow them 13 hours a day in the forest,” he said.

So far, a total of 11 orangutans have been released to Tabin, four of which have been returned to Sepilok for their inability to adapt in the wild. Some died last year.