Nyaru Menteng Orangutans
Back in early 2008 I was fortunate enough to gain permission to visit the very special place that too many orphaned or displaced orang-utans call home. At the time there were over 650 orangutans at Nyaru Menteng – a number well beyond the intended capacity of the centre. The Nyaru Menteng Care Centre is situated 28km outside of Palangka Raya, the capital of Central Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. It is located within the boundaries of the Nyaru Menteng Arboretum, a 62.5 ha lowland peat-swamp forest ecosystem, founded in 1988 by the Ministry of Forestry Regional office of Central Kalimantan.
There are about 50,000 to 60,000 orangutans left in the wild, 80 per cent of them in Indonesia and the rest in Malaysia’s Borneo states of Sabah and Sarawak. The major issue we face with orangutans today is what is called the ‘fragmented population’, split up in many small populations, and many of these populations are not connected any more casualties of the boom in palm oil – used extensively for biofuel and processed food like margarine – which has seen swathes of jungle felled in Borneo, an island split between Malaysia and Indonesia. The aim of the Nyaru Menteng Care Centre is to rescue orangutans that have been 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. During my time at the centre I witnessed only new arrivals no relocations unfortunately but what I did come away with from there was a new understanding of the problems facing our closest member of the primate family and some wonderful images that I’ve been able to share with the world..