Four orangutans rescued in a week
27 February 2013
February has been an incredibly busy time for the Orangutan Information Centre's rescue team, with four orangutans being rescued and returned to safe forests within one week. Panut Hadisiswoyo, Founder and Director of the OIC, writes from the field:
The Human Orangutan Conflict Response Unit (HOCRU) had received reports from local farmers in Namu Unggas village in North Sumatra that there were orangutans stranded in their rubber plantations, unable to return to the forest. After a long search through the farmlands over five days, the team were able to safely evacuate a female orangutan and her infant on 12th February.
We estimate that the mother is around 30 years old and her infant around 7 years old. We named them Bintang and Kejora. It is likely that they had been there for a long time, as the area had become cut off from the Gunung Leuser National Park some years ago, and the closest forest is some 5 km away - a distance that would be nearly impossible for an orangutan to cross without a forest corridor.
The evacuation started at 6am, and by 10.30am both orangutans had been safely tranquilised and brought down from the trees. It is crucial for the team to encourage orangutans into an area of low trees to reduce any risk of injury when they fall into the net after being hit by the dart.
Our vet, Dr. Ricko, gave both orangutans a thorough health check, and found that Bintang was pregnant when he heard an additional heartbeat in her abdomen! They were deemed in good condition to be released back into the forest, so they were immediately taken to our forest restoration site within the national park and returned to the wild on the same day. They both moved off quickly into the forest - two orangutans, soon to become three, with another chance at life in the wild.
The HOCRU team returned to the area the next day, and on 14th February they were able to help two more orangutans stuck in the same area of rubber plantations - a female orangutan and her male offspring. The team named them Valentina and Valentino due to the date of the rescue. Valentino was darted first, and Dr. Ricko gave him a clean bill of health whilst the rest of the team caught Valentina. She is a strong animal, and it took four darts to bring her down from the rubber trees.
Valentino is cared for by the HOCRU staff
The two were reunited and were released at sunrise the next morning into the Gunung Leuser National Park.
Valentina and Valentino are released back into the Gunung Leuser National Park
As we always say, these evacuations are very risky for the orangutans and rescuers alike, and are only attempted as a last resort when there is no other chance for the orangutans to be able to get back to the forest. We are working hard to try to slow down and stop deforestation in Sumatra so that we can solve the problem of orangutans becoming trapped in farmlands as their forest home is destroyed.
This work is only possible thanks to our donors and supporters. Please help us to protect orangutans, their forests and their future.