The Bohorok Orangutan Centre at Bukit Lawang
The Bohorok Centre for ex-captive Sumatran orangutans was established in 1973 by two Swiss zoologists, Regina Frey and Monica Boerner, with funding originally provided by the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). In 1980 the Centre was taken over by the Indonesian Government. Since then it has received virtually no outside funding, and it no longer operates as a rehabilitation centre for orangutans.
More than 200 orangutans were released. into the Gunung Leuser National Park. The centre has been closed to admitting more orangutans since 1996, as it no longer met modern standards of species re-introduction. Furthermore, the area is already over-saturated with orangutans, and therefore not suitable for releasing more rehabilitants. Releasing ex-captive apes into areas of forest where wild populations exist also risks importing disease. For these and other valid reasons, Bohorok cannot be modified and updated to function again as a rehabilitation centre.
The area remains open to tourists, providing the incredible opportunity of viewing orangutans in the semi-wild on forest treks, an experience which galvanizes support for their conservation and well-being, and fuels the local economy.
It is essential that visitors refrain from touching or feeding the orangutans as they are susceptible to many human illnesses which their immune systems cannot deal with.
Tourists are still able to see the semi-wild orangutans on forest treks with local guides and rangers. It is a marvellous sight to see them swinging freely through the jungle. Tourists are delighted how close up they can view these amazing animals, although it is imperative that there is no direct contact and the rangers ensure that visitors maintain a reasonable distance.