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International Animal Rescue Saving animals from suffering around the world

IAR’s team in West Borneo cares for baby orangutan with a bullet lodged in his shoulder

IAR’s team in Ketapang is caring for a baby orangutan with a bullet lodged in his right shoulder. Staff at the centre believe he was wounded when his mother was shot and probably killed.

The little ape is also suffering from such severe malnutrition that the vets have described his condition as “alarming.” “His body is very small but after examining his teeth we estimate him to be about 18 months old,” said Dr Karmele Llano Sanchez, vet and programme director of IAR Indonesia. “Most likely his mother has been shot, even killed,” she added. “Tragically, quite often when adult orangutans are shot their babies are hit and die too.”

As well as being in very poor physical condition, the baby, who has been named Didik, is severely traumatised by what has happened to him. “For an animal like an orangutan, witnessing the death of its mother is a profoundly shocking experience. That is undoubtedly why Didik looks so sad and depressed,” Sanchez explained. “It will take a long time for him to recover from the terrible trauma he has been through and start to take an interest in his surroundings.”


Didik was handed over to Cuan the shopkeeper in Sandai Kiri, Sandai Subdistrict, Ketapang. “A man gave the orangutan to me,” said Cuan, “and then left in a hurry without explanation.” Being a compassionate man, Cuan cared for the orangutan and fed him on milk formula for three days while he sought advice on what to do with him.

A team from International Animal Rescue and officials from the Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) travelled to Sandai after they were alerted to the orangutan’s existence by the local Pastor. 
“We are very grateful to the citizens of Sandai,” said Dr Adi Irawan, Operations Manager at IAR Indonesia. “We rely on people like Pastor Olke to make our rescue work possible. Indeed, he also assisted us with the rescue of some orangutans back in 2010.”

Baby Didik is now in the care of the medical team at IAR’s orangutan conservation centre. He is receiving treatment for a serious fungal skin condition and an eye infection. He is also being given plenty of nutritious food and vitamin supplements to build up his strength.  

​Vet Ayu said: “Didik doesn’t know how to eat and struggles to open his mouth for food so we are making baby porridge with banana in it for him and giving it to him with a syringe. It will take some time for him to open his mouth on his own but at least now he is willing to eat. We will now start to introduce him to fruits and vegetables too. He is also drinking milk and learning to hold the bottle for himself.”

Didik will remain in quarantine for some weeks until his health has improved and it has been confirmed that he is free from diseases. Once his time in quarantine has been completed, he will be introduced to other small babies in the centre’s Pre-School and his rehabilitation can begin.

Alan Knight OBE, IAR Chief Executive, said: “It is heartbreaking to see a young animal with such a look of sadness and pain in his eyes. Didik has already suffered terrible trauma in his short life. Now it is up to our team of vets and carers to help him recover, both mentally and physically. He will spend years at our centre being prepared for release back into the wild one day. We can’t give Didik back his mother but we will do all we can to give him back his freedom.”

Please make a donation today to help give Didik the treatment and care he needs to survive.