By Nathalie Bonney

TWO orangutans braved a 52-hour drive and a boat ride down a river filled with treacherous rapids to reach their new home in west Borneo

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Videographer/ director: IAR
Producer: Crystal Chung, Ellie Winstanley
Editor: Ian Phillips, Sonia Estal

After 52 hours, the two orangutans arrived at their new home in west Borneo

Mata and Mynah will begin their new lives in the Bukit Baka Bukit Raya national park, in west Kalimantan, Indonesia, after being released back into the wild.  

The adult orangutans were both victims of devastating forest fires, before being rescued and taken to International Animal Rescue’s (IAR) centre in Ketapang.

The Bornean Orangutans were released into a safer, thriving habitat

The pair are the first orangutans to be released back into the wild under IAR's reintroduction programme. 

Alan Knight, CEO of IAR, called it “a momentous event” for the team, adding: “They have been planning and preparing for the launch of this reintroduction programme for the past two years.

The orangutans were victims of forest fires, and were taken to the International Animal Rescue centre
These great apes were enrolled in the IAR's reintroduction programme

"The journey to the release site involved two days on treacherous roads, several hours on a raging river and then a trek on foot into the national park.”

After an arduous 52-hour drive from Ketapang to the village of Mengkilau, Mata and Mynah were moved into wooden, motorised boats, known as keletok, and taken up stream to the release site.

The cages were carried by the team deep into the forest where the apes will be safe

The transport crates had to be fitted with large floats in case the boats capsized in the raging rapids.

Finally the cages were lifted from the boats by a team of eight porters and carried several hundred metres, deep into the forest.

The journey to their new habitat was treacherous but worth the risk

To celebrate their release back into the wild, the people of Mengilau and Juoi villages held traditional Dayak Ransa tribe ceremonies.

The orangutans were cared for by the team till they were ready to be released back into the wild

The area of Mentati, within the national park, was chosen because of its undeveloped state and low orangutan population.

The orangutan population has already declined by 50% in 60 years

IAR programme director Karmele Llano Sanchez said: “Mentatai has a very low population of orangutans and is far from any human settlement, reducing the likelihood of conflict between local communities and orangutans.”

The IAR worked in collaboration with the Conservation of Natural Resources Agency and the Buki Baka Bukit Raya National Park.

These orangutans were lucky to be given a new home, however many great apes aren't as fortunate

Bornean Orangutans are classed as endangered species, with an estimated 45,000-69,000 individuals in the wild. 

As their natural habitat comes under threat from illegal logging, fires, oil palm plantations and mining the number of orangutans is at increased risk of falling – the population has already declined by 50% in 60 years

Lis Key, from IAR England, said: “Every individual like Mynah and Mata counts and every orangutan that we return to the wild can contribute to the conservation of the population as a whole.”