Mission: Orangutan Appeal UK (OAUK) is dedicated to the rehabilitation, protection and conservation of critically endangered orangutans and their natural habitat throughout Southeast Asia. The principal aims of the charity are to proactively work for the conservation, preservation and protection of the orangutan population. Acting as an NGO to the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD), they provide funding and support to Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre in Sabah, Borneo to rescue, provide medical treatment, rehabilitate and ultimately release orphaned or displaced orangutans back into protected rainforest reserves.
Species: Bornean Orangutan
Location: Tabin Rainforest Reserve, Sabah, Borneo
Support started: 2015
Donating: £5,000 towards the running of the post-release monitoring programme, with funds put towards the salaries of the primatologist and research assistants and their support whilst monitoring the orangutans, as well as costs associated with transporting orangutans and reaching the release/monitoring sites.
Find out more about our work with project through our annual report:
Background: Post-release monitoring is the process of tracking re-released animals to gain a better understanding of whether they are able to survive after they return to the wild. The process provides information on how the orangutan is coping back in the wild, if they are successfully adapting to their surroundings, their health status and food foraging skills. The project will be able to measure how successful the rehabilitation process which has been followed at Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre has been and identifies areas which need further attention. Identifying areas which require more training thus enables the wildlife staff to adjust the programme for future releases.
The post-release monitoring programme uses subcutaneous radio telemetry that was introduced as a pioneering new technology in 2010 and was not being used by anyone else, but has subsequently been utilised by almost all those conducting post release monitoring of orangutans. The information on the orangutans is collected through nest-to-nest follows for each released individual recording information on activity, substrate use, height in the canopy, feeding, social behaviour and response to humans. Detailed data is also recorded on nesting and feeding throughout each follow and research assistants document each animal’s daily ranging path, daily distance travelled and active period. Monthly analysis of approximately 1000 plant species making up the orangutans’ diet is also ongoing. The collected data is used to establish reasons why some orangutans struggle more than others to adapt to the wild.
An educational awareness programme is also underway targeting nearby stakeholders, schools and communities. This is designed to provide increased protection to the release site against illegal encroachment and to engender a sense of ownership and shared objectives among the local community.
Future Objectives: In continuing to establish baseline intensive behavioural data on the post release adaptation of rehabilitant reintroduced orangutans, the project aims to provide reintroduction practitioners with a detailed reference point for adaptation. Ultimately the success of the project will see all rehabilitant orangutan re-released into the wild with optimized skills needed for their survival.