Rescuing orangutans is a difficult and challenging process, whatever the situation, and unless the orangutan is in a desperate situation or being kept as a pet, rescuing is always a last resort, and only carried out if every other option to keep the orangutan in the wild has been explored.
It is important to stress that IAR does not have the legal authority to carry out rescues in Indonesia, and all our rescues are conducted in collaboration with the local nature conservation agency of the forestry department, known as the BKSDA. It is only because of our good relationship with this, and other, government departments that IAR is able to carry out its conservation work.
We are usually alerted to the presence of an orangutan in need of rescue by the BKSDA, by people contacting us or contacting one of our staff members who lives in their local area, by our Human Orangutan Conflict Response Team, or by one of the Community Prevention Units we have established in areas where we know orangutans are at risk.
Immediately upon being alerted to an orangutan in need of rescue, our team sets out to investigate, either rescuing the orangutan immediately, or doing a recce to assess the situation and determine how many members of staff are needed. Each rescue team comprises enough field staff to carry the equipment and the orangutan once it has been rescued, one or two vets, and, if necessary, a member of our Human Orangutan Conflict Response Team, to help in the case of any resistance or community issues during the rescue. All rescues are attended by a member of the BKSDA.
Whether the rescue is a young baby kept as a pet or a wild orangutan in need of being darted and caught from a tree, our team always does a health assessment in the field, and takes details of the location of the rescue, details of the orangutan and the context of the rescue. Orangutans that are anesthetised during the rescue have a microchip inserted into the back of the neck, so they can be easily identified in the future. If this doesn’t happen in the field, it will be done at our clinic.
If our team is rescuing a wild orangutan and it is believed that the orangutan can be directly translocated to another area of forest immediately, without having to be brought to our centre, the rescue will only be carried out once permission has been granted from the relevant management authority of the desired release site. Once the orangutan has been captured, the translocation will only be given the green light once a health check has been carried out, and our vets are satisfied that the orangutan is in good health and strong enough to survive in the wild.