Gokong continues to grow in size and confidence, and he has become even more of a handful at the SOCP Orangutan Quarantine Centre in North Sumatra over the last six months. He is quite aggressive towards the staff and makes it difficult for them to take other orangutans from his group to forest school. Considering this difficult situation, Gokong is on the priority list to be transferred to a reintroduction station, rather than staying longer in the Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre where he cannot attend forest school.
The plan had been to conduct a pre-release medical check on Gokong in March 2020, and if he was healthy enough, to then transfer him to a reintroduction station to continue his journey to a life back in the wild. Unfortunately, his transfer has had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. As part of SOCP’s precautionary measures, they have closed all stations to outside persons temporarily, and all transfers of orangutans to the release sites have been paused, in order to minimise the risk of virus transmission to the wild population. As soon as they are able, SOCP will restart orangutan transfers.
Once transferred, Gokong will continue to learn survival skills in forest school in the actual Sumatran rainforest. This is more complex in terms of tree height and varieties, wildlife species and many other rainforest factors. The new and more complex learning environment will challenge Gokong to increase his forest skills and will provide him with the opportunity for much needed extensive physical activity and mental stimulation. It is exciting that Gokong is so close to taking his last steps before forest freedom.