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Samboja Lestari

The East Kalimantan Orangutan Reintroduction Program at Samboja Lestari was the first orangutan reintroduction program established by the Borneo Orangutan Survival (BOS) Foundation in 1991

BOS Programs

Samboja Lestari

Location: East Kalimantan // Program Type: Orangutan Reintroduction

The East Kalimantan Orangutan Reintroduction Program at Samboja Lestari was the first orangutan reintroduction program established by the Borneo Orangutan Survival (BOS) Foundation in 1991, specifically to provide care and rehabilitation for displaced or orphaned orangutans rescued from areas of habitat loss.

Formally known as Wanariset, the project was relocated in 2006, due to insufficient space and was renamed Samboja Lestari. The program is currently located about 38 kilometres from Balikpapan, in East Kalimantan and works in collaboration with the East Kalimantan Conservation and Natural Resources Authority (BKSDA), an executive technical unit of the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry.

The land at Samboja Lestari is owned by the BOS Foundation and is the location of their forest rehabilitation program. The main activities at Samboja Lestari include orangutan rescue, translocation of orangutans from areas of conflict to areas of secure and protected habitat, the provision of welfare and healthcare, rehabilitation, reintroduction and forest restoration activities.

In addition to orangutan rehabilitation and reintroduction, there is also a sun bear sanctuary at Samboja Lestari, with around 50 sun bears currently under in BOS's care.

Conservation of habitat and wildlife can only be achieved by working together with local communities and other stakeholders, hence in all areas, BOS engage with local communities and schools on community development activities and outreach conservation education.

The BOS Foundation has rescued hundreds of orangutans in East Kalimantan and currently cares for and supports over 164 orangutans at Samboja Lestari

Orangutan Rescue and Release

Orangutans that have been displaced from areas of natural habitat due to human development activities causing widespread habitat loss, are often forced to range long distances in search of food. Often they wander into oil palm plantations or community gardens as they simply have no other alternative.

Together with BKSDA, BOS rescue orangutans from these situations and if healthy, can immediately release them to areas of safe, secure natural habitat. This practice is commonly known as translocation. In situations where an orangutan has suffered injury or illness, they provide dedicated healthcare to ensure their recovery for future translocation or later reintroduction.

Orangutan Rehabilitation and Reintroduction

The BOS Foundation manages two reintroduction programs; Nyaru Menteng in Central Kalimantan and Samboja Lestari in East Kalimantan. Both of these programs focus on rehabilitation and reintroduction activities in line with national and international (IUCN) guidelines and criteria.

When an infant orangutan is taken away from its mother, he or she loses a whole life time of early learning. Therefore, the purpose of rehabilitation is to equip orphaned orangutans with the skills they need to survive once they are old enough to be reintroduced to the forest.


Healthcare and Quarantine

Each orangutan arriving at one of the reintroduction programs goes through routine quarantine procedures and health checks (physical and psychological). This is very important as many rescued orangutans have been exposed to human diseases which they would not normally encounter in the wild.


The majority of the orangutans who enter the facilities are still very young, so in need of orangutan-peer interaction and daily lessons on forest survival.

During rehabilitation, orangutans are taught and encouraged to build nests, select appropriate natural foods and recognise natural predators.

This process starts in ‘Baby School’ and progresses through different levels of ‘Forest School’, where each day is spent in the forest learning new skills. Skills acquired by each individual are assessed before moving them up through the levels.

Dependent on the age and existing skills each orangutan has, rehabilitation can take up to 7 years.


The overriding goal is to reintroduce orangutans back to secure natural habitat in order to establish new viable long-term populations to bolster conservation of the species in the wild.

Run by RHOI (Indonesian Orangutan Habitat Restoration), a company established by the BOS Foundation for the purpose of obtaining Ecosystem Restoration Concessions, the forest areas secured for the reintroduction program in East Kalimantan are established with camps, equipment and trained personnel to ensure that the Orangutan Field Monitoring Programs are able to continuously monitor each orangutan’s adaptation to their natural habitat.

This involves a great deal of ongoing logistical support, planning and is very costly. You can support our Release Programs through your donations.

Long-term Sanctuary

Very sadly some of the orangutans can never be returned to the wild due to illness or injury. A dedicated team continues to provide welfare and healthcare to these individuals, which they will need for the rest of their lives.

An orangutan can live for 50 years in captivity, and BOS ensure that all individuals are provided with the highest level of long-term care and sanctuary.

Programs » Samboja Lestari

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