By Ellie Duncombe
A ten-year-old orangutan has been returned to the rainforests of West Borneo after five and a half years in rehabilitation.
Mimi was brought to the International Animal Rescue (IAR) rehabilitation centre in Ketapang in May 2011 after being confiscated from illegal pet traders along with another baby called Momo.
Tragically, their mothers had been killed and the infants were waiting to be sold to animal traffickers and smuggled out of Indonesia.
Mimi and Momo were being kept in appalling conditions at the back of a house, in a tiny cage overlooking a sewer in the town of Sintang.
They were both suffering from severe malnutrition and Mimi was nearly hairless.
They clung constantly to each other and screamed whenever they were pulled apart.
The pair quickly adapted to their new surroundings at IAR’s centre but sadly, in 2013, Momo suddenly died from an infection.
Eventually Mimi was moved to a pre-release island where her behaviour was monitored to assess her progress before being finally deemed ready for release into the Bukit Baka Bukit Raya National Park.
The journey from IAR’s rehabilitation centre to the National Park took more than 40 hours by car before the team continued their journey by boat for an hour and a half and then trekked for six hours through the thick forest of the park.
Within minutes of being released, Mimi immediately started to climb nearby trees and began foraging.
The team continued to monitor Mimi’s progress in the wild and are tasked with monitoring the orangutan’s movements, activities, and the types of food that they eat.
This is done to ensure the orangutans are truly able to survive in the real forest.
Dr Adi Irawan, Operational Manager of IAR Indonesia, said: “The orangutan monitoring team do an outstanding job.
“The team members live in a camp in the forest, waking early in the morning and only returning to the lodge when the sun has gone down.
“They follow the orangutans for almost 14 hours a day and we’re very pleased to see their passion and concern for the survival of the orangutans.
“We believe their presence will ensure that the released orangutans survive and live as nature intended.”
To date, IAR Indonesia has released 11 orangutans in the national park.