By Emma Pearson @emma_pear
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Videographer / Director: Gilbert Woolley
Producer: Emma Pearson, Nick Johnson
Editor: Sonia Estal
Mum, Ah Foo, 25, and her 18-month-old baby, Kebaco, swing joyously from the trees after a three-month stint in quarantined captivity.
The pair were rescued from an oil palm plantation after a concerned farmer raised the alarm amid preparations for the harvest – which would have destroyed their home and put them in serious danger.
The team took the mum and baby to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in Malaysia to screen them for disease before being released to set up their new home amongst fellow great apes.
The cute pair were kept under observation for a few months before they were given the all-clear to be moved to their new home.
Doctor Laura Benedict, from Sarawak, East Malaysia, and her team at the Wildlife Rescue Unit sedated Ah Foo with tranquiliser for final medical checks and to take her baby away for safe transportation.
Blood samples were taken before the apes were driven deep into the Tabin Nature Reserve in the heart of the Sabah rain forest on May 12.
On arrival at the chosen tree, nervous Kebaco had to be coaxed from her cage, whereas Ah Foo bolted into the foliage, knocking her baby from the tree in her haste.
However after acclimatising herself to her new surroundings, she collected Kebaco and built a nest for her sleepy baby to snuggle up for an afternoon nap.
Doctor Benedict, who was present at the release, said: “When we first released them the mother actually straight away went up the tree leaving the baby behind.
“But after we left for about an hour she claimed back the baby from where we left her.
“This is the end of the operation for these particular orangutans but this will not end here.
“I’m hoping that both of them will continue to survive in the wild.”
Wild orangutans can only be found in Borneo or the island of Sumatra in Indonesia, and can live up to 45-years-old.
Female orangutans are often found with babies, whereas male orangutans tend to live alone.
Gilbert Woolley, a photographer and editor from Bristol, UK, now living and working in Borneo, captured the young family’s adventure on film.
Gilbert, 40, works for South East Asia filming and photography company, Scubazoo, which is dedicated to raising awareness of rainforest and marine conservation.
He said: “The baby was released first and then the mother.
“We left them to acclimatize to their new surroundings and on returning an hour later, we found the mother in the process of building a nest for them both for their afternoon siesta.
“It’s a fantastic sign that they are happy in their new home and have a bright and wild future ahead.”
For more information about the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in Malaysia visit here: http://www.orangutan-appeal.org.uk/about-us/sepilok-rehabilitation-centre