This year the conservation status of Bornean orangutans was upgraded by IUCN from Endangered to Critically Endangered. This reclassification is largely due to continued habitat loss from the conversion of Borneo’s rainforests to oil palm, rubber, and paper plantations. Sadly, Bornean orangutans are also still victims of hunting and the illegal pet trade and are only a step away from extinction. The BOS Foundation’s Reintroduction Centres recently took in another three orangutans to undergo the long process of rehabilitation.
Two Infant Females
On September 9, the Central Kalimantan BKSDA and the BOS Foundation’s Nyaru Menteng team rescued an 8-month-old female infant from a local resident of Bawan village in the Banama Tingang Sub-Regency of Pulang Pisau Regency, Central Kalimantan. The team was tipped off by Drs. Sem Irawan Bodoi, Sub-Regent of Banama Tingang, who had reprimanded the resident for keeping the orangutan illegally, with little effect. The resident claimed to have found the orangutan – whom we later named Bawan, after the location she was rescued from – on a damaged stretch of land near his home.
An X-ray scan on Bawan revealed a 4-mm air rifle bullet lodged in her left knee
On September 19, the same joint rescue team received a report from Central Kalimantan’s Tasik Payawan Sub-Regent, Mr. Ciing SPd, that he had secured a female baby orangutan of similar age to Bawan. The baby was being held captive by a local resident in Petak Bahandang village. The resident, who is an oil palm worker, claimed he found the baby orangutan motherless and alone on his way to work at a plantation. We have yet to name the baby. A general check up conducted by Maryos Tandang, our senior veterinarian at the Nyaru Menteng clinic, detected a fever.
Both babies were placed in quarantine at the BOS Foundation’s Nyaru Menteng Baby House, in Central Kalimantan.
Jeje, a 6-year-old male, arrived at Samboja Lestari on September 8 after being rescued by the West Kutai BKSDA and the Centre for Orangutan Protection (COP) from a local resident in Begung, West Kutai, who had been keeping him as a pet. According to the resident, Jeje was found alone in a field near the village. Upon arrival at Samboja Lestari, Jeje displayed a fear of humans.
Jeje was placed in the BOS Foundation’s Samboja Lestari quarantine complex, and is awaiting a complete health assessment.
Bawan, the unnamed baby and Jeje are, unfortunately, victims of weak law enforcement in Indonesia regarding the illegal pet trade and illegal captivity of protected wildlife, and the ongoing conversion of forests to plantations. If we fail to stop the destruction of Borneo’s forests, orangutans and other wild species will undoubtedly become extinct.
As an umbrella species, orangutans play a major role in forest protection; saving orangutans means saving forests. Human beings rely on forests as sources of oxygen and clean water, as CO2 absorbers, to prevent flooding and erosion and provide many non-timber forest resources. If humankind needs forests, and forests need orangutans, then we need to safeguard orangutans to ensure not only their survival, but also our own!
HOPE (Help Orangutans, Protect the Earth)
Text by: Communication Teams from Nyaru Menteng, Samboja Lestari, and BOS Foundation Headquarters