International Animal Rescue (IAR) established a rescue and rehabilitation centre for orangutans in the province of West Kalimantan in Indonesian Borneo in 2013. It is located in a village called Sungai Awan, approximately a 30-minute drive from the town of Ketapang.
The site was selected because of its rural location however it is not too far from Ketapang where most of the staff live. The goal of the centre was to provide as much of a natural experience for the orangutans as possible. The land that the centre was built on contained a large expanse of secondary forest and peat swamp forest, which would be suitable for forest school for the younger orangutans, and islands for the older orangutans in the pre-release stage of rehabilitation.
Many young orangutans that arrive at the centre have been kept illegally as pets in deplorable conditions. Orangutans are given a full medical check upon arrival and treated for any illnesses and parasites. Many confiscated orangutans are very young and require around the clock care and regular milk feeds. These youngsters have full time carers so they receive the care that they would have had from their own mothers.
New arrivals undergo a quarantine period before being introduced to other compatible orangutans. Once they are with other orangutans, they can begin forming social bonds and learn skills from each other. The forested areas provide the opportunity for young orangutans to visit with the staff to develop their forest skills during their rehabilitation. These skills include nest building, traveling in the canopy and being able to identify and access various forest food sources including fruits, leaves, bark, cambium and insects. Young orangutans spend many years learning these skills from their mother in the forest, so the rehabilitation journey is a slow process. Orangutans develop at different rates depending on their age, temperament and how long they spent with their mother in the forest. When orangutans are deemed suitable for more intensive release training, they are moved to the pre-release islands.
Since IAR first moved into the centre, they have been able to acquire more land surrounding it, and the site now covers 150 hectares. Facilities include an extensive veterinary clinic, quarantine area, orangutan enclosures, an office and a guesthouse for visiting researchers and volunteers. The forest school area and the orangutan pre-release islands are further north.
Funds from our orangutan adoption program go towards the care of these precious orphaned orangutans including food, forest school outings and medical supplies at the IAR Orangutan Centre.