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International Animal Rescue Saving animals from suffering around the world

Our team in Indonesia works together with the BKSDA, West Kalimantan to rescue two orangutans.

Our team in Indonesia have worked together with the Conservation Agency for Natural Resources West Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo) to rescue two orangutans that were being kept as pets in the local area of Dusun Patehada in Semandang Hulu village, Simpang Hulu, Ketapang district on Monday, 19 March.

The orangutans, named Utu and Joy, were rescued from two different owners. Utu was owned for around five years, and was kept for the entire time in a wooden cage 1.5x1m in size. Utu was given a diet of rice and fruit during this time. Utu’s mother was shot and killed to be eaten. Other than orangutans, in the past Utu’s owner had also kept a slow loris, however the loris had died after being attacked by ants.

The other orangutan, Joy, had also been kept as a pet for around five years. Her owner bought Joy from a hunter in a village on the edge of a protected area in Ketapang region, for 300,000 IDR (21USD. Whilst Joy was being kept as a pet, she was housed in a wooden cage 1.5x1m in size, and given a diet of sugar cane, rice mixed with sugar, bananas and sweet potatoes. Although it is illegal to keep orangutans as pets in Indonesia, it is still normal to find orangutans being kept in Ketapang district, particularly in rural areas further away from the city. When people buy orangutans this encourages hunters and the trade in orangutans. “Given the principle of supply and demand economy, keeping orangutans supports the illegal trade in them. Therefore, keepers cause the trade to continue, meaning that hunting continues," states our Indonesia Operations Manager, Doctor Adi Irawan.

A horrific aspect of this trade is that, in the case of baby orangutans being kept as pets, it is almost certain that the orangutan’s mother has been killed to get the baby. Naturally, an infant orangutan would stay with its mother until it is six to eight years old. During this time, before the infant is ready to be independent, the mother will fiercely protect her infant. “There is a high possibility that Joy’s mother was killed by a hunter as well as Utu’s. If an orangutan younger than six years old is found alone, it’s almost always because the mother has died,” Dr Irawan concluded.

“The rehabilitation process to prepare the orangutans to return to their forest habitat is not cheap. This process takes a lot of time and money,” explains Programme Director of IAR Indonesia, Dr Karmele L Sanchez. “Baby orangutans need a long time and many years of rehabilitation before being returned to their natural habitat. The cost is extremely high. The worst case scenario is when they are already too old and have spent too long in captivity to be rehabilitated and cannot be returned to their home in the forest,” she adds.

The BKSDA, West Kalimantan is appreciative of our teams work. “Actually, people have a debt to nature, and we have to work together to protect nature and wildlife, it is the responsibility of us all,” stated the head of the BKSDA, West Kalimantan, Sadtata Noor. “In this case IAR Indonesia has shown its commitment together with BKSDA, West Kalimantan to participate in the care and protection of wildlife in West Kalimantan, particularly with orangutans. We hope all parties remain committed so we can contribute significantly to conservation work in West Kalimantan."

In accordance with Law no. 5 of 1990, owners keeping protected wildlife as pets should be prosecuted, which will also have a deterrent effect. This will help to combat and stop the wildlife hunting - trade cycle.

Karmele states: "This is the time for all who keep orangutans to realise that if they continue to violate this law, orangutans will soon be extinct. People who meet those that sell orangutans should not buy the orangutans and should immediately report them to the authorities. If people do not cooperate by handing over orangutans, then law enforcement is needed.”