Three Critically Endangered Orangutans Are Returned to Their Forest Home

Rescuers are celebrating the successful release of three critically endangered Bornean orangutans – one male and two females – who have just been safely returned to their home in the rainforest.

The male, named Abun, had to be rescued over the summer after he was found in a community garden. He escaped there after being driven from his home by a land clearing operation.

The two females, Pinoh and Laksmi, were both victims of the pet trade. Pinoh was surrendered to officials, while Laksmi had been abandoned in a cage by her owner, who was trying to escape the police. Thankfully they were taken in by International Animal Rescue (IAR), which helped them begin the lengthy rehabilitation process.

Pinoh and Laksmi attended forest school at IAR’s rehabilitation center in Ketapang, where they learned the skills they would need to survive on their own. After graduating, they were moved to a pre-release island, where they were monitored and their skills were assessed to see whether they were ready to go out on their own.

“After a comprehensive rehabilitation process lasting six or seven years, we can ensure that orangutans like Laksmi and Pinoh are ready for reintroduction,” said Karmale L Sanchez, Program Director for IAR in Indonesia. “In the wild infant orangutans stay with their mothers until they are at least seven years old and our rescued orangutans need a similar time to become independent.”

The release of the orangutans was carried out by a team from IAR, along with members of the local Forest Department and the Bukit Baka Bukit Raya National Park.

Release Abun, Pinoh, dan Laksmi_49Credit: International Animal Rescue

For these three, things worked out well and they were all deemed ready to return home to their rightful place in the forest. Last week, the team, including local residents who helped carry the crates holding the orangutans, set out on a three-day journey that took them by road, boat and foot to the release sites in the Bukit Baka Bukit Raya National Park, which was chosen because it still has plenty of habitat and food available.

Release Abun, Pinoh, dan Laksmi_21Credit: International Animal Rescue

Abun, was the first to be set free.

Release Abun, Pinoh, dan Laksmi_13Credit: International Animal Rescue

According to IAR, once his crate’s door was opened, he climbed the tallest tree he could and started eating.

Release Abun, Pinoh, dan Laksmi_19Credit: International Animal Rescue

A few hours later, Pinoh and Laksmi were also back in the jungle.

Release Abun, Pinoh, dan Laksmi_31Credit: International Animal Rescue

IAR will be monitoring them to ensure they’re happy and healthy in their new home, and we can hope they will thrive there.

Release Abun, Pinoh, dan Laksmi_32Credit: International Animal Rescue

“The most uplifting thing is to see an orangutan returning to his natural habitat,” said Uray Iskandar from the Forest Department. “The orangutan species is native to Indonesia and we must work to protect it and to protect its habitat.”

Although the rehabilitation and release of these three is cause for celebration, their stories are also a sobering reminder about the threats orangutans are up against. Sadly for Bornean orangutans, who are now Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, each life is incredibly precious. Although they fare better in some areas than others, a recent study found that they’ve declined by an alarming 25 percent over just the past 10 years.

Tragically, these incredible great apes continue to face a host of threats that range from being hunted for bushmeat and having infants stolen for the pet trade to losing their homes to development and fires. The loss of habitat they’re experiencing has led to starvation for many, and has increased the risk of violent conflicts with humans as they move closer to us in search of food.

IAR is currently caring for many who have found themselves in need of life-saving interventions, and will continue to take in more if we don’t act to mitigate the threats to their survival. Hopefully the story of this latest release will help raise more awareness about the plight of orangutans, and garner more support for increasing conservation efforts to protect them in the wild.

For more on how to help, check out International Animal Rescue.


Photo credit: Thinkstock


heather g
heather g2 months ago

The IAR does wonderful work in Borneo. The Government and Police need to conduct regular education drives and visit schools too.

Angela K
Angela K3 months ago

Wonderful touching story and every rescued soul is a gift !
But how long it takes until bulldozers destroy their new home?
I'm not a pessimist, but I know, human greed for dollars is immeasurable :-(

Jeramie D
Jeramie D3 months ago

Wow. Thank you to the rescuers who saved their lives and will watch to see if it is going well. I wish they had more habitat.

Michele B
Michele B3 months ago

that HAS to be one of THE most rewarding days for all concerned. I just hope that it is the BEGINNING of even greater actions to come

Pat P
Pat P3 months ago

Sadly, there is little habitat left for these magnificent creatures which is disappearing rapidly (as humans are increasing), and their future has many threats, is critically endangered--only one small step from extinct! Even though the IAR is doing their best to rescue, care for, rehab and train the orangutans they encounter, their hope for the future of this wonderful species is not confident.

Although I hope for the best for them, it is difficult to maintain optimism, with not enough compassionate humans or finances to assure their protection.

Loredana V
Loredana V3 months ago

Thank you rescuers!

Past Member
Past Member 3 months ago


Terri S
Terri S3 months ago

Thank you, IAR!!! Hope these 3 live long, healthy lives!!!

Sherry Kohn
Sherry Kohn3 months ago

Many thanks to you !

ANA MARIJA R3 months ago

Once again, thank You IAR💕 Faith in the human race restored for today.
p.s. IF only 1 mil. of people make decion to become daily concious consumer...