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International Animal Rescue Saving animals from suffering around the world

Rescued orangutan relocated to safety in Borneo

Veterinary director Karmele gives Eneka a full medical check (Photo: Feri Latief)An orangutan that was discovered near a rubber plantation in West Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo has been successfully rescued and translocated. The joint operation was carried out by a team from International Animal Rescue Indonesia, members of Fauna and Flora International (FFI) - Indonesian Programme in Ketapang and the local forestry department BKSDA.

The orangutan was brought to IAR's orangutan conservation centre in Ketapang on 19 August. She was found by villagers in Tanjung Baik Budi. There had also previously been sightings of the mother but then she seemed to vanish and it is possible that she may have been killed.

The young female is about four years old. She would have been unable to find food in the area around the plantation and would also have been in constant danger of being captured or killed if she had remained there. Consequently the villagers decided to catch her and take her to the rescue centre.

The team called the young orangutan Eneka. She is still an infant but has spent her entire life in the wild with her mother so she was a good candidate for translocation. Hundreds of orangutans in different rescue and rehabilitation centres across Indonesia are waiting for a chance to be released into the wild. Searching for suitable release sites is the main constraint.

Eneka spent six days at the IAR centre while she was tested and checked for diseases and was thankfully found to be healthy.

The team carried Eneka in a cage to a safe release site (Photo: Feri Latief)In order to translocate Eneka as fast as possible and prevent her from coming into contact with humans or other captive orangutans, IAR contacted FFI which suggested Pematang Gadung forest as a release site.

Pematang Gadung is a village in the Ketapang regency. Ketapang is the regency in West Kalimantan province with the largest population of orangutans in the wild. However, the development of oil palm plantations is reducing the habitat for this species which is under a lot of pressure.

In Pematang Gadung the local community has chosen to protect their remaining forest. This area of about 14,000 hectares has been proposed as Community Forest. This type of forest is managed by the local people instead of being given as a concession for multinational companies or developers who don't care about local needs and local communities.

Eneka is released back into the wild (Photo: Feri Latief)FFI assisted the local community of Pematang Gadung through the process and also carried out biodiversity surveys which showed that the area still has conservation value and species such as proboscis monkeys, orangutans and langurs are still easy to spot.

On 26 August, the IAR and FFI teams, accompanied by representatives from the BKSDA, translocated Eneka to Pematang Gadung forest.

Said Karmele Llano Sanchez, Executive Director of International Animal Rescue Indonesia: "The response of the villagers to the translocation operation has been extremely positive which is a very encouraging sign for similar efforts that may be carried out in future.

"There is only one way to protect Borneo's forest and it is in the hands of the local communities that inhabit the island. Working with these communities is absolutely crucial if we are to succeed in our conservation efforts and guarantee the future of the orangutan."