International Animal Rescue (IAR) just returned 24 macaques who were rescued from life in captivity to their home in the wild in a protected Sumatran forest. Prior to the rescue, the monkeys were kept as pets – now they have their freedom back and are roaming the Batutegi Protected Forest in the province of Lampung, Sumatra, Indonesia.
The group of rescued monkeys, 18 long-tailed macaques and six pig-tailed macaques, was released on October 23, 2017, by the IAR team in Indonesia assisted by local residents in Batutegi. The release site was selected on the basis of its being a conservation area meant to keep the animals safe from human activities and preserve its diversity and variety of foods.
The macaques were rescued after either being abandoned or surrendered. As IAR points out, some people no longer wanted to take care of the monkeys after the novelty of having one as a pet wore off, while others found the animals to be too dangerous to keep once they grew and gained more strength.
After the rescue, the macaques were first kept in quarantine, then entered the rehabilitation stage. At that point, they were introduced to the foods that they would find in the wild and encouraged to develop their natural behaviors needed to survive. Gathering behavioral data allowed the team to access the best release date.
Before the big day of release, the macaques were rehabilitated and socialized in four groups of long-tailed macaques, identified by Alpha males Awi, Andri, Robert, and Raya, and two groups of pig-tailed macaques, led by Panji and Brahma.
At the release site, the monkeys were first put in habituation cages to adapt to their new surroundings. After three days, they were removed from the cages and released fully into the wild. From then on, the team has been keeping track of their movements in the new habitat and observing their behavior to see if they adapted to their new life well.
The release is part of IAR’s rescue, rehabilitation, and release program to improve welfare of former pet monkeys by returning them to their natural habitat and restoring their ecological functions in the environment. Restoring the wild nature of monkeys previously kept in captivity as pets is a challenge – it requires time and money, especially since the animals’ behavior is often warped by their being kept like human beings in extremely inadequate to their needs conditions. But thanks to IAR’s efforts, this and many similar projects have ended in a great success – with the macaques finally enjoying their freedom!
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All image source: International Animal Rescue/Facebook