The survival of Bornean orangutans is continually under threat due to habitat destruction and hunting for the illegal pet trade. The BOS Foundation’s Nyaru Menteng centre recently received two more baby orangutans that had been kept illegally as pets by local villagers in Central Kalimantan.
Suci, a baby female orangutan estimated to be about 18 months old, was rescued on August 8 from a palm-oil company employee who had been keeping her illegally as a pet in Tumbang Samba village, Katingan Regency. The worker claimed to have come across the baby orangutan on his way to work on July 31. It was raining on that particular day, and the baby orangutan was alone and seemed to be suffering from the cold weather. Feeling sorry for the baby, the worker took her home and fed her leftover food and some fruits.
The Forestry Agency in Katingan Regency received a report that the orangutan was being kept as a pet and officers quickly confiscated her from the worker. They then handed the petit little female, whom was later named Suci, over to the BOSF Rehabilitation Centre in Nyaru Menteng.
Results from an initial examination conducted by vet Greggy indicated that Suci was in good condition and still exhibited natural, wild behaviours: she would instinctively try to bite approaching human hands. Suci is now in quarantine and being cared for by our team of dedicated babysitters while we await the results of a complete health analysis.
One day before International Orangutan Day, which falls annually on August 19, our rescue team from Nyaru Menteng worked together with the Central Kalimantan BKSDA to rescue a young male orangutan in Bangkuang village. A local resident named Heri had been keeping the orangutan, who he had named Tumang, captive for four years. He claimed that a colleague had given him Tumang when he was about six months old.
Information about Tumang’s captivity came from a local police officer who spotted him during a local event held by workers of a palm oil plantation in Bangkuang village. The police officer, who was on duty during the event, saw Heri watching a contest with his wife and Tumang. The officer approached Heri to explain the law regarding the illegal captivity of orangutans. Heri and his wife soon moved away from the crowd and out of sight.
On that same day, the Central Kalimantan BKSDA received a tip off from the police officer and immediately organised a joint-team with staff from our Nyaru Menteng centre to be dispatched the following morning to confiscate Tumang from Heri’s residence.
Heri and wife treated Tumang like their own chils, put him clothes, brought about, fed the same food, even bathed twice a day
An initial health check by vet Fiet Hayu indicated that Tumang was in good physical health, however, the hair on his neck had been completely shaved off by his captors.
Orangutans are NOT pets
Young orangutans that have been separated from their mothers lose the opportunity to learn the vital life skills required to survive in the forest. Making people aware of the law regarding the illegal captivity of orangutans and educating the public on conservation, it seems, is a never-ending task. People think that keeping a wild animal caged equates to keeping them protected, and therefore is a form of ‘conservation’. On the contrary, forcefully extracting wild animals from their natural habitats and keeping them as pets only accelerates the process of their extinction.
Last month, the Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) was reclassified by the IUCN as ‘critically endangered’. It takes up to seven years of rehabilitation before we can return an orangutan to the wild; therefore, we are literally racing the clock to prevent this amazing species from extinction.
Tumang’s four years in captivity means that he has missed learning the vital life skills he needs to survive in the wild alone, so the rehabilitation process for him – and others like him – is a long road.
Our hope is that the Government of Indonesia and all relevant stakeholders will work together with us to conserve wildlife. The government must be firm and decisive in enforcing the law to reduce the illegal pet trade in Indonesia.
Human beings and orangutans share 97% of the same DNA: If you look into their eyes, you can feel the connection. Let’s work together to support conservation and save these beautiful creatures from the threat of extinction. It is our collective moral obligation to do so.
The BOS Foundation’s Communications Team in Nyaru Menteng and Headquarter
The year 2016 marks the BOS Foundation’s 25th anniversary! Celebrate 25 years of ever-challenging, dedicated work in the field of orangutan conservation by showing your support and help save orangutans!