Alan the orangutan is relocated to safety
A wild orangutan of at least 15 years old has been moved to safety in Borneo, thanks to a rescue team from International Animal Rescue. He was moved from the area of Kelik Buntu (Kali baru) in the village of Sei Awan Kiri to a new forest area in Hutan Sungai Satong, Western Borneo.
According to local villagers, the orangutan had been roaming around the area for some time, going into the small sugar cane plantations and eating the fruits from trees near their houses. The large male was probably confused by the fact that the surrounding forest was vanishing, leaving the orangutans and many other species without a home. Luckily on this occasion the villagers did the right thing and asked IAR to help them, rather than acting alone and possibly harming themselves or the orangutan.
Once the IAR centre had been alerted to the situation, a member of the team went to check on the orangutan. He confirmed that the animal was definitely in the area and then a rescue team was sent out with medical and tranquilliser equipment. Unfortunately, as the team arrived fairly late at night, he was not to be found and was probably sleeping in a nest somewhere nearby. The team turned up again early the following morning to search for the orangutan with the help of the local villagers. However it wasn’t until around midday that one of the rescue team saw him in amongst the foliage.
The male orangutan had well defined cheek pads and, according to Argitoe Ranting, head of IAR’s rescue team, he was probably about 15 years old and weighing between 70 or 80 kg. When he caught sight of the rescue team he began to move among the branches and display the famous ‘kiss squeak’, a kind of vocalisation that signals discomfort and is designed to ward off approaching danger. Although it was difficult to find a good angle to shoot him with the dart gun to sedate him because he was moving about a great deal among the foliage, Argitoe has a good eye and he hit the target at the first attempt. The orangutan continued to move for a while, then gradually he started to get down from the trees until he was just about a metre off the ground. Then he finally fell slowly to the earth.
When the team was sure that the situation was not dangerous, vets Doctor Adi and Lusy proceeded with the medical check to make sure the orangutan was in good health. He had a wound on his right foot which the vets cleaned and treated with antibiotic cream. Then he was carried to the transportation cage where Doctor Adi inserted a microchip in his back before introducing him into the cage, so that he can be identified in the future. It was decided to call him Alan, after IAR Chief Executive Alan Knight, as he is very big but also very quiet and calm!
Alan was very patient during the three hour journey by boat to bring him to the release site at Hutan Sungai Satong. He just watched and seemed to be processing what was happening, remaining alert, quiet and relaxed. The team finally arrived at the spot in the evening, when the sun was just disappearing. The cage was opened directly from the boat which had been pulled in close to the land, and then Alan went straight into the trees, climbing up until he could no longer be seen in the increasing darkness. The team waved him off with cries of: “Good luck Alan, We hope you like your new home, safe and far from humans!”