Fulfilling International Guidelines
The SOCP provides facilities that operate to the highest international standards and guidelines for reintroduction. Every year between 20 and 40 orangutans enter the programme.
Despite the fact that it has long been illegal to kill, capture, keep or trade orangutans in Indonesia, these wildlife laws have seldom been effectively enforced. One excuse that was often offered to explain this shortcoming was a lack of suitable facilities to accommodate confiscated animals. Between 1972 and 1995 any confiscated Sumatran orangutans were normally taken to Sumatra's only orangutan rehabilitation center at Bohorok (also known as Bukit Lawang), North Sumatra. In 1995, however, the Bohorok center was effectively closed as it no longer met the needs of international guidelines or Indonesian legislation covering orangutan reintroduction.
According to the currently accepted guidelines for the quarantine and reintroduction of great apes, such as the IUCN Guidelines for the Reintroduction of Great Apes, and an Indonesian Governmental Ministerial Decree from 1995, confiscated orangutans should only be released in areas where there is no existing wild population. They should also all pass a mandatory quarantine period in specialist facilities, meaning there can be no contact between the orangutans and tourists or other visitors. These regulations and guidelines are extremely important to avoid the risk of reintroduced orangutans competing for resources with, and possibly spreading diseases to, an already Critically Endangered resident wild orangutan population.
After the establishment of the SOCP in 1999, appropriate facilities now exist that operate in full compliance with international guidelines and regulations. The quarantine station at Batu Mbelin and the reintroduction center in Jambi are both well-equipped, staffed by experienced personnel, and operate to the highest standards. The confiscated orangutans are eventually released in the Bukit Tigapuluh National Park, an area providing ideal lowland rainforest habitat, that previously had no existing wild orangutan population.