Orphaned orangutan makes return to wild after 18 years of rehab

KOTA KINABALU: An orphaned Bornean orangutan, called Tiger, rescued from a logging camp 18 years ago, made history after he was successfully returned to the wild.

The translocation of the large adult primate was made possible due to the joint effort of the Sabah Wildlife Department and UK-based charity, Orangutan Appeal UK (OAUK).

Rescued when he was only two years old from Lahad Datu, Tiger has spent all this time at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in Sandakan.

‘Tiger’ roaming freely in the Tabin Wildlife Reserve.

OAUK founder and chairperson Sue Sheward said today the translocation of Tiger from Sepilok to the Tabin reserve was historic as it involved a host of partners.

“Teams from the Sabah Wildlife Department, the Wildlife Rescue Unit and Orangutan Appeal UK all pooled their resources to make this amazing achievement possible.

“With the assistance of good friends within Sabah and the UK, yet another magnificent orangutan was saved,” she said.

The team, comprising the Sabah Wildlife Department, Wildlife Rescue Unit and Orangutan Appeal UK, involved in the translocation operation.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said Tiger was brought to Sepilok as a “very timid two-year-old”.

“He spent the next few years undergoing the rehabilitation process there.

“Tiger was rescued from a logging camp somewhere in Lahad Datu and has been translocated back to Tabin Wildlife Reserve’s Core Area, also in Lahad Datu.”

He said the Tabin Wildlife Reserve is a 1,200 sq km sanctuary and is an ideal place to release Tiger as it is an adequately large area for him to comfortably roam and forage in.

Tuuga thanked OAUK for funding the translocation operation, which cost more than RM50,000.

“We would also like to thank the Malaysian Palm Oil Council for funding the department’s critically important Wildlife Rescue Unit, which played a critical part in making this translocation operation a success,” he said.