Conservationists have released photos and video of the rescue of a young female orangutan found boarded up in a wooden crate in a village in West Borneo.
The infant, thought to be about three years old, had been found by a local man from Banyu Abang Village, Teluk Batang Districk, Kayong Utara Regency. He claimed to have found the orangutan on his farmland, not far from a palm oil plantation.
The villager, known as Bahtiar, kept the orangutan for about two weeks in a cage of just 1m2 which he built out of pieces of wood and nailed shut to prevent her from escaping. He named her Isin.
However, knowing that it is illegal in Indonesia to capture an orangutan and keep it as a pet, Bahtiar soon contacted the authorities and made arrangements to surrender Isin to them.
On 3 October officials from the local Forest Department (BKSDA) travelled to the village, accompanied by a team from International Animal Rescue (IAR) whose orangutan conservation centre is based in Ketapang, West Borneo.
There was great excitement among the local villagers when the team arrived and set about releasing Isin from her wooden box. Having only recently been captured, the little orangutan was clearly still wild and very frightened. Once some of the planks of wood had been levered off the crate, the medical team were able to entice her over to them with some tasty morsels of food, take hold of her arm and sedate her to minimise the stress of her release and rescue.
Once sedated, Isin was lifted from her wooden prison by Argitoe Ranting, leader of the Human-Orangutan Conflict Response Team (HOCRT) and quickly checked by vet Uwi before the sedative was reversed and she was settled on a comfy bed of leaves in a transport crate and left to wake up away from all the commotion.
Before leaving the village, IAR’s team took the time to explain to the villagers why they should never capture or keep an orangutan as a pet. They impressed upon them that, if they were to come across another wild orangutan in future, they should call on IAR’s team to come and help them.
IAR Chief Executive Alan Knight OBE said: “Little Isin is yet another sad victim of the devastating deforestation being carried out by palm oil companies and other large scale agricultural industries in Borneo.
“She should still be with her mother, learning from her all the skills and behaviours she needs to survive in the forest. Instead she was found all alone, which makes it likely that her mother had been killed. A female orangutan would never abandon her baby or be parted from it without a fight. Baby orangutans like Isin are likely to have seen their mothers being killed – which is why so many of them are deeply traumatised when we rescue them.
“Isin will join more than 100 other orangutans in our rescue centre in Ketapang, West Borneo and, once through quarantine, will begin her journey through rehabilitation in preparation for her eventual return to the rainforest.”
Karmele Llano Sanchez, Programme Director of IAR Indonesia, added: “Having such a large number of orangutans undergoing rehabilitation, with more having to be rescued all the time, makes it increasingly difficult to find safe places where we can release them.
“It is absolutely vital that the root cause of the problem is addressed – the relentless destruction of the rainforest – if we are ever to halt the decline of orangutan populations in the wild.”