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International Animal Rescue Saving animals from suffering around the world

Orangutans pay a high price for palm oil in Indonesia

Infant orangutan tied to a poleThe plight of a baby orangutan rescued from plantation workers in Borneo has exposed the high price these endangered primates are paying for the production of palm oil. The 2-3 year old female was found hogtied to a pole and had clearly been brutally beaten. Covered in cuts and bruises, she was also severely dehydrated and emaciated after being starved for days or even weeks. A second young female was in a similar condition. According to the plantation workers the young orangutans' mothers had been caught, killed and eaten.

International Animal Rescue's team was told that an even younger orangutan had been caught but escaped from the workers. At less than a year old, he would stand practically no chance of surviving in the wild and is likely to have already been killed or is being kept in captivity as a pet on the plantation.

Tied up and beaten: Helen the infant orangutanAlan Knight OBE, Chief Executive of International Animal Rescue, said: "The story of this young orangutan is sickening. While the destruction of the rainforest continues at a terrifying rate, these great apes are paying the price by losing their homes and their lives, primarily to the palm oil industry. Thankfully our team was able to confiscate the two infants and is caring for them in our rescue centre, but we know there are countless more dying or languishing in captivity after their habitat has been destroyed."

International Animal Rescue has recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Indonesian Forestry Department that allows the group to set up a rescue centre in West Kalimantan in Indonesian Borneo where there is currently no proper facility for orangutans. The group's aim is to replace a temporary rescue centre with a permanent facility where rescued primates can be rehabilitated and prepared for release back into the wild. The team is working on a proposal for research into suitable sites where orangutans can be reintroduced into protected areas of forest.

Helen the infant orangutan now in safe handsThe two young infants, named Helen and Sera, are doing well. IAR's veterinary director Karmele Llano Sanchez reports that Helen's infected wounds have responded well to antibiotics and that, although very frightened and aggressive at first, she is learning to trust her new carers.

Alan Knight concludes: "We will do everything we can to save the lives of orangutans like Helen and Sera, but the answer lies in calling an urgent halt to the destruction of the rainforest and developing a sustainable palm oil production industry. That is the only real solution that will save the orangutan."