Orangutan emergency centre
In August 2009 International Animal Rescue signed an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with the Forestry Department (BKSDA) in West Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo, agreeing plans for the rescue, rehabilitation and relocation of orangutans that have lost their forest habitat to make way for oil palm plantations. The agreement allows for the purchase of land and the creation of facilities where the rescued animals can be rehabilitated before being released back into protected areas of forest.
In the meantime, our team is caring for a growing number of orangutans in a small, temporary rescue centre in Ketapang, West Kalimantan while we work to establish a more permanent facility. Until International Animal Rescue became involved there was no adequate centre for rescued orangutans in the area. The priority was to set up a temporary facility where they could be given immediate care and emergency veterinary treatment.
We started more or less from scratch in Ketapang... The existing centre was no more than a collection of cramped rusty cages when the team took over - some already containing frustrated orangutans with no toys or any other kind of environmental enrichment to amuse and stimulate them. Already, by the beginning of 2010, with generous support from the public, we had done a great deal to improve the deplorable conditions at the Ketapang centre.
Veterinary Director Karmele Llano Sanchez and her team had started to treat the injuries and ailments of the existing orangutans and had brought in a number of new rescues. A unit of four new enclosures had been designed, built and erected and some of the larger orangutans were enjoying a taste of freedom as they swung vigorously in the hammocks and tyres and played with other orangutans, perhaps for the first time in their lives. A nutritious diet with plenty of varied fruits and nuts had begun to improve their health and the environmental enrichment introduced into the cages on a daily basis had awoken a new interest and curiosity in their eyes.
Since those early days, facilities at the Ketapang centre have been extended and improved to house the growing number of rescued orangutans and set them on the road through rehabilitation to reintroduction into the wild. Many more are still in need of help. By the end of 2010, thanks to a generous gift from a supporter, IAR had purchased 60 acres of land on which to build a permanent orangutan rehabilitation centre. Planning permission was obtained in the early months of 2011 and construction began that October, starting first with the infants' enclosure where they will have ample space to exercise and play.
The forested site of the new centre will give the orangutans ample opportunity to develop natural behaviour. Many will be able to climb trees for the first time in their lives.