TPNP Release Sites
Dr. Biruté Mary Galdikas and Rod Brindamour established the first orangutan rehabilitation program in Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo) in 1971 at Camp Leakey in what was then Tanjung Puting game reserve, now national park. The program started with one squealing orangutan infant, named “Sugito” after a high ranking Forestry official who had accompanied Galdikas and Brindamour from Bogor.
For approximately the next twenty-five years, the rehabilitation and release program ran in the Park. Working with the Park authorities Galdikas established several other release sites within Tanjung Puting National Park (TPNP), including one at Tanjung Harapan. In total between 1971 and 1995 approximately 200 wild born ex-captive orangutans were released into the Park.
In 1995 the Indonesian Forestry Department introduced regulations that ex-captive orangutans should not be released into forests where large populations of wild orangutans still existed. Tanjung Puting was one of these forests. The goal of the new regulations was to protect wild orangutan populations from competition for food and mates and to prevent the possibility of introducing new diseases or parasites into wild populations. With one or two exceptions, for many years to come,no more ex-captive orangutans were released at Camp Leakey or any of the other Tanjung Puting National Park release sites.
“Camp Leakey… is the most popular international visitor attraction in the province of Central Indonesian Borneo (Kalimantan Tengah).”
In 1998 Lamandau Wildlife Reserve, with its logged forest that did not contain a very large population of wild orangutans, was established as a new location for the release of ex-captive orangutans into the wild. Subsequently orangutans from the Care Center were routinely released at Lamandau.
Camp Leakey, along with the two other auxillary orangutan release sites and feeding stations in the Park managed by OFI, Tanjung Harapan and Pondok Tanggui), is the most popular international visitor attraction in the province of Central Indonesian Borneo (Kalimantan Tengah). Although an occasional wild orangutan meanders by and even visits the feeding station, most of the orangutans that visitors see at Camp Leakey are the wild born ex-captives, their offspring, or their offspring’s offspring.
Nonetheless, when abundant fruit (orangutans’ preferred food) is available in the forest, visitors to Camp Leakey may not see a single orangutan at the feeding station for weeks at a time. Such was the case in March 2010.