by Tine Rattel
On 6 June this year, a further seventeen long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) were released on Panaitan island within the Ujung Kulon National Park in West Java.
All individuals went through the rehabilitation process at our centre in Ciapus, which includes behavioural observations, introduction to natural foods, group forming and enrichment provision to stimulate natural behaviours. Some macaques have been in the centre since 2009. Most of the macaques are rescued from the pet trade and have often been kept in tiny cages for many years from a young age.
|Veterinarian Sharmini and macaque keeper |
Wayne rescuing Cheetah in 2011 from his
prison cage where he had spent most of his
life. Cheetah was one of the group of macaques
released last month into Ujung Kulon National
For example, one of the released macaques, Cheetah, was rescued in 2011 by IAR Indonesia. He had been bought as a baby from a pet market and had been kept for seven years in the same cage, never being let out. The owners now wanted to get rid of him because he was (understandably) becoming more aggressive towards the owners. He then spent the next two years being rehabilitated at IAR’s Rescue Centre.
Prior to release all macaques received a general health check-up. They were also weighed, given microchips for future identification and were sterilised. The released individuals were selected for release based on health condition and behavioural results from pre-release monitoring.
Since the macaque release programme at the Ujung Kulon National Park started in 2009 our team in Indonesia has now released a total of 86 long-tailed macaques back to the wild, a process supported by the Natural Resources Conservation Agency of Indonesia (BKSDA).
Ciapus Programme Manager Aris Hidayat commented “Unfortunately, under the current law, macaques still do not have any legal protection in Indonesia. Some of the animals were surrendered by their owners and others were simply abandoned. Giving these animals the chance to return to the wild, where they belong, serves their individual welfare and IAR’s dedication to rescue and rehabilitate suffering animals”.
Ujung Kulon National Park encompasses an area of 1,206 km² (443 km² marine), most of which is situated on a peninsula stretching out into the Indian Ocean. It was Indonesia’s first proposed national park and was declared a UNESCO WORLD Heritage Site in 1991 for containing the largest remaining lowland rainforest in Java. The park is rich in biodiversity including 40 species of mammals (five of which are primates), 240 species of birds, 59 species of reptiles, 22 species of amphibians, 142 species of fish, 33 species of corals and 57 rare plant species.
|Macaque cages en route to freedom|
This habitat is protected and provides sufficient food to support permanent macaque populations and is therefore an ideal release site for our animals.
We hope that our macaques enjoy their new freedom as they become more and more familiar with their surroundings, the lush green forest homes where these animals are meant to be.