Orang-utans rescued from imminent slaughter:
FOUR PAWS funded team save pregnant mother and daughter.
An orang-utan mother and her infant have been successfully re-released into the wild after they had been saved from head hunters in Borneo a week earlier. Members of the FOUR PAWS working with its Indonesian partners BOS and RHOI had been searching the area surrounding a palm oil plantation after news of systematic killings had surfaced. Allegations are that many palm oil companies pay rewards of up to one million Indonesian Rupiah (about € 80) for each ape killed. The FOUR PAWS funded team did not find any surviving orang-utans apart from a pregnant female and her infant, who were already surrounded by a gang of local youths intending to kill them for the bounty. The petrified animals were rescued at last minute and brought to one of the few remaining safe areas in the jungle of Borneo.
The female orangutan, aged between 25 and 30, and her 5-year-old daughter appear to be the only survivors in the area of the plantation. They were equipped with identity chips and the mother was also fitted with a radio transmitter, which will make it possible to monitor them once free in the forest and thereby ensure that they succeed in their new home. During transportation the orangutans were cared for by an experienced veterinarian from BOS. Heavy weather made the journey even more difficult and with bridges swept away and rivers flooded it took four complete days to get to the selected release site. Finally on the January 25, the orang-utans were released into their new safe forest.
Time is running out
Meanwhile, the massive destruction of the Indonesian rain forests and the illegal mass killings of the apes living in it are slowly entering the political agenda after the topic finally received some attention by the local media. Up until very recently, the existing laws protecting the orang-utans from being slaughtered lacked enforcement entirely. This led to the ape population shrinking from a quarter of a million a few decades ago to only about 50,000 remaining orang-utans. They are severely threatened by extinction as palm oil plantations and mining eat their way into the country’s unique ecosystem. Tens of thousands of adult orang-utans have been slaughtered, while their orphaned offspring is frequently being sold off as pets or left behind to die, if they aren’t killed on the spot as well. Mass graves that were discovered last September triggered the first few serious arrests, including a senior plantation manager.
The work of FOUR PAWS in Eastern Borneo, is a cooperation with BOS (Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation) and its sister organisation RHOI. BOS has been fighting against the extermination of the orang-utans and the rapid deforestation of their habitat for more than twenty years now and currently cares for over 800 rescued orang-utans in its centres. In 2009, BOS created RHOI, an organisation working to restore forest habitats and provide new safe areas for the release of rescued orang-utans into the wild.
Speaking immediately after the release Dr Signe Preuschoft (FOUR PAWS’ Primate Expert) said: “This has been a fantastic team effort. We are proud to be able to fund RHOI and BOS to help the Indonesian authorities in their efforts to confiscate orangutans where they are in danger. We recognise the steps the authorities have taken to find and prosecute the perpetrators of the recently reported massacres.
Hopefully, the plight of these two, just rescued orangutans will make visible the need for more safe forest for rescued orangutans. The orangutans and RHOI need this desperately and urgently”