STARVING MALE ORANGUTAN RESCUED
In spite of a recent reduction in the number of forest and land fires in Ketapang Regency, West Borneo, the survival of orangutans remains under threat. Illegal mining and logging also pose a serious threat by damaging forests and natural habitats.
Our team, in collaboration with the Wildlife Rescue Unit (WRU) for the Conservation of Natural Resources (BKSDA) in Ketapang rescued an adult male orangutan affected by illegal mining and logging in the hamlet of Sungai Pelang, Matan Hilir Selatan District on 24 January.
The orangutan was first reported by a villager in mid-January after it entered his garden. Our Orangutan Protection Unit (OPU) followed up on this report by confirming the presence of the orangutan and carrying out conflict mitigation by encouraging him back into the forest. However, because the forest had already been opened up and fragmented as a result of illegal gold mining and illegal logging, the orangutan, named Inap by our rescue unit, returned to the community garden in search of food.
Our team finally decided to evacuate the orangutan which they believed to be over 20 years old and bring him to our rescue and rehabilitation centre for further examination before moving him to a better location. We used a dart gun to anaesthetise the orangutan before capturing him.
Before he was rescued by our team and the BKSDA, the villagers had tried to catch the orangutan with a rope which had blistered his hands. This was a source of regret for Karmele L Sanchez, Director of IAR Indonesia. She said: "We ask and sincerely hope for the public always to report the discovery of an orangutan to the relevant officers at the BKSDA and IAR Indonesia, rather than trying to capture it without using proper procedures and so potentially endangering themselves and the orangutan.”
From the location survey, it was known that the existing forest has been cut into pieces by land clearing for mining and illegal logging. Satellite imagery shows that the remaining forest area is much narrower than the open land. Therefore, it was no surprise that the orangutan had been driven from his natural habitat by the illegal activity.
Sadtata Noor, Head of the BKSDA, commented: "Yet again we have a case of human/wildlife conflict. When will we resolve this? It is time for the government and partners to take concrete steps. Comprehensive policies, awareness and innovative solutions must start now!"
Alan Knight OBE, IAR Chief Executive, added: “I heartily endorse the words of Sadtata Noor. We are running out of time to save the orangutan and if no positive action is taken to tackle the threats to the species survival, at the current rate of population decline, it will soon disappear forever – and magnificent male orangutans like Inap will be no more than a memory. And what a terrible tragedy that would be for us all.”