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International Animal Rescue Saving animals from suffering around the world

Our frontline fight to save critically endangered orangutans to feature on US TV

The life-saving work of our team in Indonesia rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing orangutans back into the forests of Borneo will feature in a documentary on Animal Planet at 10pm on Saturday, 22nd December.

“RED APE: SAVING THE ORANGUTAN”, a co-production by UK company Offspring Films for the BBC and Animal Planet, documents IAR’s work as its specialist teams come to the aid of apes left stranded when their forest home is destroyed and rehabilitate orphaned baby orangutans that have been taken from the wild for the illegal pet trade.

International Animal Rescue has been battling to save Borneo’s critically endangered orangutans for the past ten years. Armed with cameras, our teams have documented their fight for the orangutan’s survival as its forest home is razed to the ground by chainsaws, bulldozers and raging fires. Rescuers are seen pulling apes from the wreckage of the forest, administering emergency medical care to the sick, starving and injured, and caring for traumatized baby orangutans that have been snatched from their dying mothers to be sold into the illegal pet trade.

The documentary tells the story of the life-saving work of IAR’s rescue teams and chronicles how one of man’s closest wild relatives has been pushed to the brink of extinction. Combining genuine rescue footage with contributions from experts throughout, this powerful documentary looks towards the future and asks what hope remains to save the orangutan.

The message is bleak. “We are in a crisis and we are running out of time,” states Karmele Llano Sanchez, Program Director of IAR Indonesia.  

“Every day that we are sitting here and not addressing conservation issues, 20 orangutans will disappear from the face of the earth,” observes conservation scientist Eric Meijaard of Borneo Futures.

The documentary sounds the alarm on the increasingly rapid decline in orangutan numbers and points the finger of blame at palm oil companies for their relentless destruction of the rainforest. It states that global palm oil consumption is set to double by 2050. According to the experts, only urgent action on both a local level among communities and governments as well as on a global scale by international institutions, food producers, supermarkets and consumers will pull the orangutan back from the brink.

Until such action is taken, the life-saving work of International Animal Rescue’s teams remains the last hope for orangutans that have lost their forest home. Says Sanchez: “It takes a lot of effort from a lot of people for just one single orangutan, but I think it's worth it.

“Looking at the decline of orangutans in the wild and at how quickly they are disappearing, caring about every single individual is becoming more and more important.

“And if there is something that can keep us going, it’s to see an orangutan being released back into the forest.”