Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Reintroduction Center
A lesser known Orangutan re-introduction center but no less important than Tanjung Puting is the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Re-introduction Center near Palangkaraya, capital city of Central Kalimantan. The Center is located within the Nyaru Menteng Arboretum, which was originally meant only for rare vegetations. Today the reserve also includes a forest conservation area where captured primates are released to find their way back into the wild.
Sited within the Arboretum, the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Reintroduction Center was founded in 1999 by Lone Dröscher Nielsen and Odom Kisar. Today it is home to more than 600 orphaned and displaced Borneo orangutans under the care of the Borneo Orangutan Survival (BOS) Foundation. Since its humble beginnings, the center has now become the world’s largest orangutan conservation facility with numerous cages, islands, clinics, vehicles, training forests and hundreds of staff.
The Head of the project is Lone Dröscher-Nielsen. Lone spent four years volunteering in Tanjung Puting, caring for small infant orangutans, before deciding to go out on her own and open the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Project.
The name Nyaru Menteng itself in local Dayak Language means Gallant and Brave, a perfect expression as a staging point to prepare Orangutans back to their natural habitat in the wild.
The clinic, quarantine facilities and socialization cages are inside a fenced area of 1.5 ha, while mid-way housing is at the farthest end of the Arboretum. The forest around the center is undisturbed by regular visitors and serves as the perfect place where the young orangutans are taught how to survive in the wild. Five small islands in the river nearby are used as the first home for the orangutans as they begin their new lives without their caretakers. The larger orangutans are placed on half-way islands in the Rungan River, located eight km away by road. On these islands the orangutans are free to roam and learn important forest survival skills. The center also has its own fruit-plantation and a big nature reserve, where the orangutans can be released into once they are ready for a life in freedom.
As a conservation center, The aim of the Nyaru Menteng Project is to rescue orangutans (and other protected primates) displaced from their habitat or held in captivity as illegal pets, and through quarantine and half-way housing release them back into their natural environment. Nyaru Menteng also aims to help protect large areas of untouched forest for this purpose. The Center has also been the subject of a number of TV series including BBC’s Orangutan Diary and Animal Planet’s Orangutan Island.
As a site where certain special and rare vegetations are cultivated for scientific and educational purposes, the Nyaru Menteng Arboretum was established in 1988 on a 65.2 hectares area which was previously exploited for logging since 1974. Nyaru Menteng has a wide collection of rare vegetation such as: the Terentang (Camnospermum sp), Mentibu (Dactylocladus stenostachys), Bintangur (Callophyllum sp), Jelutung (Dyera costulata), Agathis (Agathis sp), Bangkirai (Hopea sp), Gelam Tikus (Melaleuca leucadendron), Jambu-jambu (Eugenia sp) dan Tumih (Combretocarpus rotundotus). The Arboretum also 4 types of tropical pitcher plant (Genus Nepenthe), including: Nepenthes raffesiana, N. maxima, N. ampullaria dan N. Gracilis. Based on data of the Natural Conservation Office of Central Kalimantan (BKSDA KALTENG), the Nyaru Menteng Arboretum has 43 families and 139 species of vegetations.
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