Rehabilitation and forest school

A forest school consists of ‘Forest Enclosures’, which is an area of pristine indigenous forest of around 2 Hectares each, surrounded by an electric fence, where the orangutans can practice all their forest survival skills. The electric fence ensures SOC staff can monitor and guide the orangutans continuously. and is used to prevent them from going out of the forest school area. The voltage of the electric wires will give a shock when touched, however, it is not harmful to their health and will not cause injuries.

 

The ideal location for a forest enclosure is a natural forest with vegetation similar to their real ‘home’ – the forest. Forest school is the last step in the rehabilitation process before release. Why is forest school needed? The orangutans need to go to Forest School during the rehabilitation process to gradually become familiar with the natural forest environment and be able to truly master all skills that are needed to survive in the wild.

Skills that the orangutans need to learn during forest school include finding their own food, moving from tree to tree, and making nests. This is carried out under the supervision and guidance of specialized SOC staff that are dedicated to providing the orangutans with the best possible care and support during their rehabilitation process. The caretakers join the orangutans to forest school on a daily basis and stimulate the orangutans to develop their forest skills by climbing in the trees with the babies, or puts food in the trees to motive them to climb. In addition, they collect data about the behavior of the orangutans which is then analyzed by our behavioral scientists and biologist to analyze their readiness for release or continue further rehabilitation approaches.

The best way in which to optimize orangutans forest skills is to have a real forest to practice in. Learning how to find their own edible sources and how to collect food such as honey from a beehive without getting stung. They need to learn how to make nests in different kinds of trees, while taking into consideration various weather conditions, and estimate the strength of branches and distance when climbing through treetops. These are all skills that are difficult to acquire without practice in a forest and a regular enclosure is not sufficient to prepare the orangutans for release.

Aside from the aforementioned importance for survival, being in the forest school also reduces the stress and depression of orangutans compared to conventional enclosures. Furthermore, the forest school enables reduced human contact of caretakers.

Now we have 2 forest school locations:

1st Tembak Forest School in Tembak Hamlet, in Tempunak Sub-district

2nd Jerora Forest School in Jerora 2 Hamlet, just 20-30 minutes from Sintang City