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Large male orangutan is translocated in Indonesia

The team in Indonesia have translocated a huge male orangutan from residents’ gardens in West Borneo, Indonesia. A group from the Wildlife Rescue Unit (WRU) for the Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA Kalbar) and IAR Indonesia travelled to the gardens in Sungai Pelang Village in the District of Ketapang, West Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo.)

Reports of the existence of the orangutan had come from a resident and IAR sent the Orangutan Protection Unit (OPU) Patrol Team to the location to verify the sightings. The team eventually spotted the orangutan whom they named Boncel and they started monitoring him at the beginning of August.

IAR’s team studied the orangutan’s location via satellite imagery and agreed that the distance between the location of the garden and the forest was too great for him to be driven back into the forest. In light of this – and in light of the potential risk of conflict between the orangutan and local residents, the IAR team and members of the BKSDA and local Government agreed he should be translocated to the nearby forest of Sungai Besar.

The translocation went smoothly. IAR veterinarian Dr Andiri Nurillah carried out a health check on the orangutan and pronounced him to be between 30-40 years old and in good condition apart from a fractured finger. He was estimated to weigh between 60-70kg.

“Because the orangutan is healthy and doesn’t require any medical treatment, we agreed with the team from BKSDA Kalbar that he should be translocated directly to the forest of Sungai Besar. We have also coordinated directly with the village authorities on this matter,” explained Argitoe Ranting, Head of the IAR Indonesia programme. “The forest covers an area of more than 6500 hectares.”

“Although such translocations offer a solution for individual orangutans, they are only a temporary solution. Translocation does not address the root of the problem which lies in the conversion and destruction of the forest,” he added.

Threats to the survival of the orangutan have increased since huge fires hit most major regions of Ketapang. Forest fires deprive orangutans of food and shelter. Inevitably orangutans are going to be displaced when they are driven out by fire and stray into villages and onto farmland in search of food. This causes an increase in the number of encounters between humans and orangutans which can lead to conflict and harm to both animals and people.

Karmele L Sanchez, Director of  IAR Indonesia,  said: "On World Orangutan Day, 19th August, we were reminded that  we  should be  proud to  ave orangutans  in the world and  undertake  whole hearted efforts to  protect  and  preserve  them  and  their habitats.  However, conflicts between humans and orangutans continue to happen. Indeed, the potential for conflict is on the increase. Conflicts  emerge because  orangutans  continue to lose the habitat that  is  home  to  them.  Orangutans  going in search of food end up on agricultural land because  they  do not  have a  choice.

“Habitat  loss  and  human-orangutan conflict  also  increase the  risk  of  disease  transmission  between  humans  and  orangutans.  Past  pandemics  are evidence of this.  The conversion of  habitat  and  the loss of  biodiversity,  as well as  the increase in  conflicts  and  interactions  between animals  and  humans,  become  key factors  contributing towards the  increased risk of  new emerging zoonotic diseases.  If  we  want to  protect  orangutans  and  we  want to  protect  humans  from  pandemics, we  have to  protect ecosystems  and  nature as a whole.  We  hope people will start to realise  the importance of  rainforests  for  orangutans  and  for humans  too."