A critically ill baby orangutan named Anyin arrived at the Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre run by International Animal Rescue in Borneo earlier this week. A hunter killed Anyin’s mother in the forest where they lived in order to catch the baby and sell her in the illegal pet trade. Her owner paid a mere $140USD.
“After being kept as a pet for more than eighteen months, the owner only decided to hand over Anyin to BKSDA officers because the baby was very sick and he knew she could die” said Dr. Adi Irawan, Manager of Ketapang Orangutan Centre.
Anyin was born in the Sambas Regency which is home to the most endangered subspecies of the Borneo organgutan. The group has been recently included in the IUCN Red List of the 25 most endangered primates in the world.
Baby orangutans kept as pets often die in their new homes. “The mortality rate is high due to infectious diseases that they can get from humans,” said Dr Sanchez, “Diseases are sometimes more severe and deadly in orangutans than in humans because their immune systems are not ready to fight them.”
Baby orangutans taken from their mothers when they are still small and depend on mother’s milk, have very weak immune systems which make them more prone to infections.
“These pet orangutans do not live in suitable conditions,” added Dr. Irawan. “They are often chained up or locked in cramped cages, do not get proper diets which sometimes cause them nutritional problems, and they never have proper medical care, as in remote areas of Kalimantan there are no appropriate vet clinics where these animals can be treated.”
While writing this story about Anyin’s courageous fight for her life, IAR released an update saying the youngster passed away. The devastated IAR veterinary team suspects she died of typhoid fever, a human disease which is deadly to orangutans.
Dr. Sanchez said, “It is very upsetting when we are unable to save the life of an orangutan, particularly such a young animal.”
Anyin is just one more example of what deforestation, hunting and the illegal pet trade is doing to orangutans in Indonesia.
Dr. Sanchez concluded, “Once their home in the forest is destroyed, they are defenceless against poachers who kill the adults and capture their babies to sell as pets. Catching, keeping or killing an orangutan is illegal in Borneo, but most people who are guilty of these acts still go unpunished. This situation won’t change until the law is enforced and the wildlife traffickers are called to account for their crimes.”
Photo Credit: Eschipul