After seeing her mother tortured and killed, Peni the orangutan returns to her home in the forest
A young orangutan who witnessed the torture and death of her mother at the hands of villagers in a remote part of Borneo has been returned to the wild more than two years after the attack.
Peni was transported first by road, then river and finally carried on foot deep into a remote area of rainforest where she was released. She has been fitted with a sub-cutaneous tracking device so that she can be followed and monitored post-release.
Three year old Peni was rescued in 2010 by a team from International Animal Rescue and has since been cared for at the IAR Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in West Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. She was traumatised and terrified when she first arrived and underwent extensive rehabilitation to prepare her mentally and physically for life back in the wild. After a period in quarantine she was socialised with other young orangutans at the centre and gradually settled into her new life. Peni was assessed on a regular basis to ascertain whether she possessed the instincts and the skills that are vital to survival in the forest. She was frequently observed in the forested play area behaving like a wild orangutan, making nests in the trees and rarely spending time on the ground.
During the first three years of her life when she was still with her mother, Peni will already have started learning from her how to survive in the forest. While she was at the rehabilitation centre it gradually became clear that she was a good candidate for reintroduction. Peni never became accustomed to people and so it is hoped she will stay well away from human habitation and out of harm’s way once back in the wild.
Karmele Llano Sanchez, Executive Director of IAR Indonesia, said: “Peni’s story was a horrific one. We weren’t sure whether she would even survive the trauma of watching her mother being beaten and dying before her eyes. However, we’re thrilled to see how well she is coping with her new-found freedom. Now we just pray that she stays safe and grows up into a beautiful wild orangutan – and one day has a baby of her own.”
Alan Knight OBE, Chief Executive of International Animal Rescue, said: “Peni is the first orangutan to be released from our new Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre: indeed, she is the first orangutan to undergo lengthy rehabilitation and socialisation in our care and then be released, full stop. The plan is that she will be the first of many.
“I’m incredibly proud of our team’s commitment to caring for the orangutans in our centre. Animals like Peni are mentally and physically damaged when they are rescued and I know many of them would have died had it not been for the team’s dedication. Seeing Peni enjoying her freedom back in the forest is the best reward for all their hard work and I know the moment of her release was very emotional for everyone.”
Watch the story of Peni's rescue and release here.
International Animal Rescue has rescued more than 60 orangutans from the devastating effects of the palm oil industry and the illegal pet trade. The charity has completed phase 1 of its new Orangutan Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre and will shortly be embarking on the second phase which will provide a better living environment for the adults as the next stage of their journey back to the wild.