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IAR's team rescues three orangutan orphans from captivity

IAR's team in Ketapang, West Kalimantan, has rescued three orphaned baby orangutans that were being kept as pets in local villages. Their stories are typical of the way these endangered primates are being abused and exploited at the hands of human beings.

Rescued infant orangutan PuyolThe team rescued Puyol from Kelampai village where he had been kept as a pet for the previous two months. His mother had been killed with a machete and eaten and Puyol had wounds on his abdomen and right arm which were almost certainly inflicted during the attack. Puyol was being kept at the front of his owner's house, tied up by a rope around his neck and fed only on sugar cane and water.

A man from nearby Batang Belian village had killed the mothers of Ledi and Jack in order to capture the babies and sell them as pets. He went to PT Harita -Bouksit Company and offered one of them to the company's manager in exchange for 500,000.00 RP. The manager felt sorry for the poor frightened baby and so agreed to buy Ledi. He took fairly good care of her and she had a relatively comfortable cage and sufficient food. A week after selling Ledi, the villager returned to the company and asked the manager to buy Jack as well. The manager refused to pay for the orangutan but agreed to take him and care for him. Clearly the villager had been unable to sell the little orangutan and so agreed to give him away. Jack and Ledi then lived in the same cage and were well cared for.

However, another NGO that knew of the company got word of the orangutans' existence. They contacted International Animal Rescue and the local forestry department. A rescue was planned with the forestry department and IAR keeper Pak Toriin went to survey the area where Jack and Ledi were being kept. While he was there a villager told him about Puyol. Pak Toriin went to see Puyol for himself and met with his owner. It was then decided that all three orangutans would be rescued.

Rescued infant orangutans Jack and LediThe following day the team rescued Puyol first because his living conditions were so dire. The rescuers had to resort to threatening the owner with the police in order to get him to hand the orangutan over. Once Puyol was safe the team went on to rescue Jack and Ledi. Their owner wasn't happy to part with them but reluctantly gave in.

All three babies are now settling in at IAR's rescue centre in Ketapang. As soon as Puyol arrived the vets began treating him for infection and malnutrition. Fortunately, he was extremely hungry and devoured food and formula milk eagerly, so there was no problem getting him to take his medicine.

Jack and Ledi were in much better condition than Puyol and are already confident climbers. They spend hours in the 'babyschool' play area climbing in the trees and swinging on the ropes. If he continues to make good progress, it won't be long before Puyol joins them.

Alan Knight, IAR's Chief Executive said: "For now these young orangutans are safe with us. But already, as they gradually grow in confidence and develop new skills, they are taking small steps on their long journey back into the wild and eventually a new life in a protected area of rainforest. That is the end we are aiming for with all the orangutans we rescue."

Editor's Note: Yayasan IAR Indonesia works with the support of the Indonesian Government and cooperates closely with the Forestry Department (BKSDA) to rescue and rehabilitate orangutans in West Kalimantan.