Our rescue centre in Ketapang takes in another orphaned orangutan
A young male orangutan that was surrendered by his owner to the forestry department in Ketapang,West Kalimantan is now receiving treatment and care at IAR’s rescue centre. Very little is known about his circumstances other than that he was being kept in a cage.
The orangutan’s name is Rocky and he is about one year old. He is extremely malnourished which, apart from his low body weight, is also indicated by his lack of hair, particularly on his head which is completely bald.
The infant is severely traumatised and requires constant encouragment to eat and drink. The medical team and the ’babysitters’ are caring for him around the clock to make him feel secure and build up his confidence. He is currently being looked after in the baby quarantine area where he will be given plenty of time to recover in the weeks ahead before he is introduced to the other babies.
Rocky’s arrival brings the total number of orangutans at the centre in Ketapang to 56: of these, 37 are babies or juveniles that would still be dependent on their mothers for food and protection had they not been taken from the wild. They are all victims of the illegal trade in wildlife which makes infant orangutans highly prized as pets.
But baby orangutans stolen from their mothers in the forest face a bleak future. They are generally kept in miserable conditions, chained up or locked in cramped cages and fed on an entirely unsuitable diet which often causes illness and even death. Many others die from the infectious diseases they catch from humans.
Says Dr Karmele Llano Sanchez, Executive Director of IAR Indonesia: “The number of orangutans in rehabilitation centres across Indonesia now totals more than 1,000 and they are likely to be only a small proportion of all the orangutans that are injured or displaced from their habitat. When the forest is destroyed to make way for palm oil plantations, it is easier for hunters to find and shoot orangutans. These hunters kill the mother and other members of a family and take the babies to sell them into the pet trade. People who buy orangutans to keep them as pets are as culpable as those who pull the trigger on the gun.
She concludes: “Rocky is the latest victim of the devastating impact of deforestation, hunting and the illegal pet trade on orangutans in Indonesia. In Kalimantan and other areas of Indonesia, people often keep orangutans illegally as pets. But the word 'orangutan' means 'person of the forest' and the forest is where they belong.”