Rescued Orangutan Gets the Gift of Freedom
Last April, Care2′s Sharon Seltzer wrote about Pelangsi, a young male orangutan who was caught in a poacher’s illegal snare in Indonesia and left to suffer for days without food or water. Fortunately, he was discovered and rescued by a team of caring individuals from International Animal Rescue (IAR) who took him in and oversaw his road to recovery.
Pelangsi was in rough shape when he was found. He had mutilated his hand in an effort to escape the snare, had septicemia and was near death – leaving his caretakers worried about whether he would survive the ordeal.
He was taken to IAR’s Orangutan Rehabilitation and Conservation Centre in Ketapang, West Kalimantan where he underwent a five-hour surgery to amputate his right hand and part of his arm after he was stable. He also spent his time recovering there while his rescuers remained hopeful that he would be able to return to the wild, yet unsure of how he would be able to cope with a handicap.
“While it is a tragedy that he has lost a limb, far better that than to lose his life through septicemia. There is no reason why he shouldn’t eventually return to the wild and fend for himself once more. As a wild orangutan, he is finding it quite stressful to be in captivity and tries to hide under the foliage in his cage whenever we approach him. We are keeping disturbance to a minimum but obviously we need to keep a close eye on him until we know his arm is healing properly and he is completely in the clear,” Dr. Karmele Llano Sanchez, Veterinary Director for IAR and Pelangsi’s surgeon said at the time.
This month, a team from IAR and the Agency for Natural Resources Conservation (BKSDA) Ketapang released Pelangsi in the Pematang Gadung forest where his progress will be monitored by a team of experts.
“We have all been eagerly awaiting the day of Pelangsi’s release. When endangered species like the orangutan are in crisis, every single individual counts. Pelangsi’s story is cause for celebration, not only because his life has been saved, but also because his reintroduction into the wild is a small but symbolic step in support of orangutan conservation,” said Alan Knight, Chief Executive of IAR.
Sadly, Pelangsi’s original home has been completely destroyed and converted into palm oil plantations, according to IAR. While his new home isn’t officially protected, it is watched by a volunteer group of local villagers.
“Pelangsi’s fate is no different to that of many other orangutans: their populations are rapidly being decimated in the wild, leading to serious concerns about their future survival,” said Sanchez.
Palm oil, which can be found in many food and personal care products, and other agriculture endeavors are responsible for the loss of habitat as more forest is being destroyed and converted for farming, adding to the threats that orangutans in Sumatra and Borneo face, which also include hunting, conflicts with humans and the pet trade.
“With the release of this orangutan and by raising awareness of the condition of orangutans and their habitat in Ketapang, we also hope that Pematang Gadung will be given the protected status that it deserves,” said Adi Irawan, Manager of the Yayasan IAR Indonesia programme in Ketapang.
Watch Pelangsi get released into the wild:
Photo credit: Yayasan IAR Indonesia