Jantho Orangutan Release Site
In 2009, a decision was made by the Aceh Government stating that they wanted all illegal pet orangutans confiscated in Aceh to be released there in the wild. This was after several decades of a separatist struggle in the region. Since 1998, a civil war raged on, which only ended after the tsunami of December 2004, devastated much of the province. Shortly after, Aceh Province was granted special autonomy status, which gave the provincial government considerable sway over the conservation of its own resources, including protected areas and wildlife conservation.
Located in the East of Banda Aceh, the Jalin Jantho pine reserves are one of the two release sites that SOCP send orangutans to be released back to the wild. The other being in Jambi, Bukit Tigapuluh National Park.
Surveys conducted by SOCP between 1990 and 2009 did not identify any orangutan population in Pinus Jantho Nature Reserve and have proven that the forest area here is identical with the original orangutan habitat found in other areas in Aceh. The site is a protected area of exceptionally rich lowland forest, with an unusual high density of fig trees, one of the orangutan’s staple foods. There is also a river which is at the foot of the forest, which can be crossed by people, but cannot be crossed by orangutans making it an effective natural barrier. The connectivity of the nature reserve to the wider forest block called Ulu Masen (circa 75,000ha and ultimately connected to the vast Leuser Ecosystem, in which 85% of Sumatra’s remaining wild orangutans reside) make this reintroduction site an ideal are for orangutans.
SOCP commenced construction during October 2012 of basic temporary facilities within the area of Pinus Jantho Nature Reserve. Staff facilities are located on one side of the river and some small reintroduction facilities for the orangutans at the other side. March 2011 marked the official first release of 4 orangutans into Jantho Nature Reserve.
Orangutans are deliberately chosen by SOCP staff, before they are transported to the reintroduction site. Once they have had a full health assessment and show natural signs of orangutan behaviour, for example building nests, and become relatively wild within the captive setting, they are then planned to be released. The orangutans are transported to the reintroduction cages where they will spend a short period of time familiarising themselves to the area before they are then released.
After being released, each orangutan will be monitored frequently in the forest, starting in the morning once an orangutan steps out from their sleeping nest until towards the evening, where the orangutan has started building a new nest to sleep in. The purpose of this monitoring is to collect comprehensive data related to behaviour and survival capability of the reintroduced orangutans.
To date over eighty orangutans have been successfully released into Jantho Nature Reserve. Jantho also opens doors for additional research into the area. The ongoing activities include:
- A full assessment of Phenology.
- A survey on white-handed Gibbon (Hylobates lar versitus) and Siamang (Symphlangus syndactylus) group densities by Multiple Triangulation Survey (MTS).
- Ongoing survey on mammals.
A plan for engaging local communities is currently being established to tackle the issues of land encroachment activities.
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To counteract the explosive extinction of the Sumatran rainforest, the Orangutan Coffee Project supports coffee farmers in the highland of Gayo, Aceh province to manage their plantations in an ecological and sustainable way.
Special premiums from Orangutan Coffee reward both local coffee farmers and also support the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme.