The orangutan should be the species that we treat with the greatest level of dignity. There is no other ape on the planet with more in common with humanity that the orangutan. It may be our direct evolutionary descendant.
However, sadly for orangutans, this isn’t how human beings work. Instead, we destroy our natural habitat.
The orangutan is only found in Borneo between Malaysia and Indonesia – and those orangutans that survive are often cruelly persecuted by the people around them.
Take this poor orangutan who was chained up by villagers. Who would have dreamed of what was coming next for this poor creature?
12. BKSDA Nature Conservation Agency
When wild animals are captured, it often goes unnoticed, but occasionally the police are motivated to get in touch with BKSDA Nature Conservation Agency when they hear of something. The center received a tip-off regarding an animal chained to a tree from the police in October 2016 and went to investigate.
11. To Kalimantan
Their team headed out to Central Kalimantan where the reports told them to look and there they found our orangutan chained to a tree. She’d been bound so tight that she’d lost circulation to her limbs and they were badly swollen and painful. The team gave the orangutan the name Rawit.
10. Rawit’s Despair
Poor Rawit, as you can see from this photo – she was visibly distressed. In fact, she’s acting much the same way that you or I might if we were chained to a tree and abused. The rescuing team concluded that the village had expected to be able to sell the orangutan into the illegal pet trade.
9. Big Losses
In Indonesia, the orangutan has lost more than 80% of its natural habitat in just two decades. The forests are being cleared in order to make room for palm plantations which provide palm-oil that can be sold at a large profit. It is estimated that there are only 60,000 orangutans remaining in the wild.
8. The Pet Trade
Poachers and villagers take their toll on orangutans, too. To capture a young orangutan, the mother and father will be slaughtered. The babies are often plucked from a mother’s corpse. They estimate that nearly 20,000 orangutans have been victims of this trade in the last 10 years alone.
7. Enduring Trauma
Many baby orangutans never come to terms with this horrific separation from a parent. Just like human beings would, they go into shock and develop mental issues that dog them their whole lives. It is fortunate that Rawit was rescued when she was, otherwise she might have ended up like this too.
6. Care and Attention
Rawit was cut loose from her bonds of captivity, but could not be released into the wild without medical care. She was taken to a veterinary hospital where she could be treated for her wounds and nursed back to health. All the while, the staff kept a careful eye on her mental state too.
5. A Breakthrough
After weeks of care, the staff felt that Rawit’s progress made her a suitable candidate for the “soft release program.” That is, they’d give her a chance to experience a new habitat prior to potential release into the wild. This is a slow process with much care required from the rescue staff.
4. A New Home
The day came for Rawit to be released into the wild. She was to be freed in the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve which has specially designed release sites for orangutans. It’s also kept protected from encroachment by palm oil plantations which should mean a happy future for Rawit. Here she is awaiting release.
3. Time to Go
When the team opened Rawit’s cage, she was free to go. As you can see, she wasn’t quite ready for freedom in the first instance, and she took a little time to get used to the idea. The good news was that an older female orangutan (another successful release from the center) helped her find her feet in her new home.
2. Back To Normal
With a newfound friend, Rawit’s confidence quickly returned and soon the orangutan was back to living in the forest like she had never left. She was climbing trees, swinging on branches and eating bananas like a professional. That’s the way that nature wanted it to be, we think.
1. A Final Word
Ian Woods, a photographer, said, “Today I’ve been working with the veterinary team of the Orangutan Foundation U.K. who have successfully released another orangutan into Lamandau wildlife reserve in Borneo. This area of forest has been a release site for some years now with hundreds of orangutans rehabilitated there.The way the older female orangutan in the video comes to help her when she’s finally released was so touching. She will now be monitored by field staff to check that she is thriving in her new found freedom.”
Rawit’s future looks bright now that she has been rescued from the village and placed into the care and safety of the nature reserve.
It’s a shame that not all orangutans can say the same as Rawit. Many wild apes still face similar desperate situations because of the encroachment of man on their natural habitat and the cruel and illegal pet trade.
What do you think that the world could do to better protect these magnificent creatures so much like ourselves? Let us know in the comments, we’d really like to hear from you on this issue.