Improving survival chances for reintroduced mother and infant Sumatran orangutans
Reintroducing orangutans into the wild is the first step towards building a healthy population. Post-release the animals need to survive on there own. A new research project want to find out, how mother and infant survival rates can be improved.
From the 1st of July, we are starting a research project lead by our established orangutan veterinarian Andhani Widya Hartanti, which aims to improve the survival chances of reintroduced orangutan mothers and infants up to 70%. As more mothers and infants survive, the reintroduced population in the Bukit Tigapuluh Landscape will grow and become more viable in the long term.
A sustainable population can only be established if female orangutans are reproducing and their offspring learn to live independently in the forest. Therefore, reintroduced mother and infant orangutans still need support or human intervention in order to enhance their survival chances.
Andhani’s project is the first in Indonesia to focus on reintroduced orangutan mothers and infants. The research will concentrate on the following major issues:
- Intensive monitoring protocols will ensure that mothers with infants have access to enough nutritious food and medical treatment when needed.
- Reintroduction staff will also ensure that mother orangutans learn from other orangutans in the forest to gain survival and infant care skills.
- Implanting radio transmitters as a new reliable tracking system will improve orangutan tracking and enable timely veterinary intervention.
- Nutrition analysis and the mapping of highly important feeding trees surrounding the reintroduction area will provide additional information to improve reintroduction practice.
- Health assessments will be conducted regularly by veterinarians. By the end of this project, mother and infant orangutans shall gain satisfactory overall body condition, a good health, and sufficient skills to survive in the forest.
The improved reintroduction technique will be summarized in a guideline for reintroducing orangutans. We will provide other orangutan reintroduction centres in Indonesia with these guidelines in order to enhance survival chances across the entire species range.
To ensure the sustainability of the project outcomes they will be integrated into the FZS’ reintroduction programme and we will share our findings with a wide range of partners including The Orangutan Project, Perth Zoo, and the local government. This project will contribute to save the Sumatran orangutan from extinction and support protection of tropical rainforest on Sumatra. The project is supported by the German Development Bank KfW.