PRESS RELEASE : Four Sumatran orangutans return to Aceh for release to the wild.

Four Sumatran orangutans return to Aceh for release to the wild.

16th November, 2016

From : Balai Besar KSDA Sumatera Utara and PanEco Foundation – Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme

On Tuesday November 15th, four young Sumatran orangutans arrived safely in the forests of Jantho, Aceh Besar, to begin the process of learning to be wild orangutans once again. They travelled to Jantho overnight from their previous home at the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme’s orangutan quarantine centre in Sibolangit, near Medan, in North Sumatra.

Agustina, a female approximately 8 years of age, and 3 males, Adel, Jagai and Upin, between 5 and 7 years old, arrived at 11.00 in the morning at the Jantho Orangutan Reintroduction Centre, also run by the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP).

“I wish these four orangutans the very best of luck for the future as they learn the skills they will need to survive in their new habitat,” commented Dr Hotmauli Sianturi, Head of the North Sumatra Conservation Agency (BBKSDA Sumatera Utara) of Indonesia’s Ministry of the Environment and Forestry. “All being well they’ll produce infants of their own eventually so help to found the new wild population of this critically endangered species being established in Jantho’s forests.” She added.

According to Mukhlisin, Manager of the Jantho orangutan Reintroduction Centre for the SOCP, the four young orangutans must first spend a few more weeks in cages at the edge of the forest on the banks of the Aceh River.

“First they have to recover their energy and get used to their new surroundings,” he noted. “They’ll then be released and closely followed and monitored in the forest for several months by the staff at the centre. The staff will observe the orangutan’s progress closely and monitor their health, diet and behavior so we can assess how well they’re doing. If they need any help from the team, such as extra food, or to shelter for a while in the cages again, then we will provide that. Most orangutans we release do very well out in the forest and don’t need much help at all. The most important thing for them is to find enough food and to sleep in a well-constructed nest in the trees for protection against predators and to prevent them getting too wet and cold if it rains.” He added.

Dr Ian Singleton, Director of the SOCP also commented. “These orangutans were once illegal pets in Aceh, confiscated from their owners by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry’s Conservation Agency in Aceh (BKSDA Aceh). They have since been cared for and rehabilitated at the SOCP orangutan quarantine centre near Medan. Now they’re finally ready to return to their natural habitat and have a second chance at a long and healthy life as a wild orangutan once again. It’s really great to see orangutans like these, after suffering the death of their mother when captured and then kept illegally, often in tiny cages or chained by the neck, get the chance to be genuinely free and wild again. Orangutans can live for 50 years or more in the wild and we wouldn’t want them to spend the rest of their lives in metal cages. They will also be joining over 80 orangutans that have already been released in Jantho. The aim is to establish an entirely new, self-sustaining wild orangutan population in Jantho, as a kind of ‘safety net’ to prevent the extinction of their species in the wild.” He explained.

Genman Hasibuan , S. Hut. MM, Head of BKSDA Aceh added, “Sumatran orangutans are a legally protected species in Indonesia, with fines of up to Rp 100,000,000 and prison terms of as much as 5 years for anyone caught killing, capturing, keeping, or trying to sell them. We have already prosecuted a number of people over the last few years and will continue to do so if the illegal capture and keeping of orangutans does not stop. We hope these prosecutions will act as a deterrent to anyone thinking of capturing or killing an orangutan and for anyone who is offered one as a pet.” He emphasized.

Dr Hotmauli also stressed, “Whilst it really is heartwarming to see orangutans like Agustina, Adel, Jagai and Upin on the path to being truly wild orangutans once again, that they are captive in the first place is also a sign that we are failing to protect them sufficiently in the wild. Each one of these four youngsters will have been removed from the body of their dead or dying mother, almost certainly killed by human hands. It’s that and the destruction of their habitat that remains the biggest problem!”.

Drh Yenny Saraswati, Senior Veterinarian for the SOCP added, “So far these four orangutans have done very well. We managed to get them back to full health and also to teach them how to be orangutans once again after living with people. Now their future is very much in their own hands. We wish them the very best of luck and will continue to do all we can to ensure they have a long, happy and productive live back in the forests of Aceh.”

Additional Information :-

  • The Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii) is a different species from its Bornean relative (Pongo pygmaeus).
  • The Sumatran orangutan is listed by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) as a ”Critically Endangered Species” on its Red List of Threatened Species.
  • Surveys by the SOCP suggest only around 14,600 Sumatran orangutans survive in the wild today
  • All orangutans are fully protected under Indonesian National Law UU No 5, 1990 on the Conservation of Natural Resources and Ecosystems.
  • The Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme is a collaborative programme implemented by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry’s Directorate Jenderal Konservasi Sumber Daya Alam dan Ekosistem (Ditjen KSDAE), the Indonesian NGO Yayasan Ekosistem Lestari, and the Swiss based NGO PanEco Foundation.
  • Since 2001 the SOCP has reintroduced over 180 confiscated illegal pets to the wild at the edge of the Bukit Tigapuluh National Park in Jambi Province and over 80 in the forests of Jantho, Aceh Besar, establishing two entirely new wild populations of this critically endangered species.


Contact :-

Dr. Ir. Hotmauli Sianturi, M.Sc, Kepala Balai Besar KSDA Sumatera Utara. c/o Garendel Siboro, Kepala Bidang Teknis, Tel : +62 812 7516395, Email

Genman Hasibuan, S. Hut. MM, Kepala Balai KSDA Aceh, Tel : +62 812 86319877, Email :

Dr Ian Singleton, Director SOCP, Tel : +62 61 4514360 / +62 811 650493, Email :

drh Yenny Saraswati, SOCP Senior Veterinarian, Tel : +62 813 17837976, Email :

Photos by SOCP:

  1. ariesta and jaggai SOCP Photo.JPG
  2. edy and augustina SOCP Photo.JPG

Photos are also available via Getty Images photographer Ulet Ifansasti (+62 811 2538194, Email …see download.

Photos can be downloaded at :-

  1. 4 orangutan to Jantho


About iansingletonsocp

Orangutan conservationist, former zookeeper and field researcher.

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