(Message from Indonesia)
The 2ND August was a red letter day for OVAID and for Pandu Wibisono the vet with the responsibility of the the health and welfare of orangutan being released back to the wild at Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme’s (SOCP) remote release site at Jantho, Aceh, Sumatra and Arga Kusuma from the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF) orangutan rescue and rehabilitation centre at Nyaru Menteng, Central Kalimantan. After much planning Arga and Pandu met with Nigel & Sara in Singapore in preparation to travel back to the UK for the start of the OVAID Bronwyn Scholarship which would see Arga and Pandu exchanging information on the care and welfare of orangutan with experienced vets and keepers at Chester and Paignton Zoos and hopefully honing and gaining skills during time spent at Liverpool University Vet School and at 1st opinion and specialist vet practices within the UK. Arga and Pandu hope to take these skills back with them to share with their veterinary team members and to help them with the care of the precious orangutan in their charge. The scholarship has been established with generous funding from the late Bronwyn Watson of Australia and will enable a number of Indonesian vets to increase their expertise.
The scholarship for our first two candidates will last until November 21st and Arga and Pandu will be bringing you updates of their experiences here in the UK as the weeks pass.
The first time in Singapore for both scholarship candidates was spent sightseeing and sampling the local cuisine.
At Arga’s special request a detour in Changi airport included a visit to the only Pokemon store outside Japan - this was met with indifference by some members!
Before boarding our long-haul flight to the UK we even rounded up the crew for a selfie!! British Airways were extremely generous in giving us free baggage enabling us to take approximately 160kg of essential veterinary equipment out to Indonesia to the annual Orangutan Veterinary Advisory Group (OVAG) workshop.
There was no rest on reaching London and two hectic days of sightseeing enabled Arga and Pandu to take in the iconic sights and buildings before heading briefly to Cornwall.
A trip to The Eden Project enabled everyone to see the excellent Earth Story exhibition running for the summer to raise awareness of conservation issues and which features OVAID in the ‘Guardians of The Future’ exhibit. Many of you may have seen Arga featuring prominently in the Channel 4 series ‘Orangutan Jungle School’ and to his complete surprise he was accosted by one of his fans in the middle of a very busy Eden project!
There was still no rest for the wicked as two days later saw the team driving to Chester where Arga and Pandu will be based for a large proportion of their time in the UK. Continuing our carefully planned and tight schedule we met up with Steve Unwin who had only flown in from Indonesia that morning. Steve and his wife Atina are kindly hosting ‘the boys’ as we refer to them during their time at Chester and Liverpool. The next morning bright and early saw us at Liverpool University Vet School at Leahurst where the boys were launched into four weeks of intensive tailored experience including anaesthesia, dynamic imaging, surgery, orthopaedics and pathology. OVAID would like to thank Professor Julian Chantrey and his team at Leahurst for giving their time to help both candidates and even scheduling their time at Leahurst outside the academic year so that the clinical teams can give Pandu and Arga more individual time.
We are asking our two candidates to keep all our supporters updated by giving a short weekly blog and here are the first :-