3 May 2011

Hope for Rahayu and introducing Bandut

Team vet Jenny Jaffe updates us on little Rahayu's progress and introduces Bandut, our latest arrival at International Animal Rescue's orangutan centre in Ketapang, West Kalimantan.

Baby orangutan Rahayu is improvingRahayu, the baby orangutan who was rescued recently and had cerebral malaria, is a lot stronger now. Instead of sleeping the whole day, she is now quite active, crawling around and climbing in her little jungle gym reasonably well. She has a ravenous appetite, although we have to be a bit careful about how much and what we feed her, as she gets bloated quite easily. The main issue is that she still cannot see. She arrived this way and it is almost certainly a result of the malaria. Either by damage to the retina directly or because the sight centre in her brain was damaged during the bout of cerebral malaria. Though she obviously cannot see, she does have a pupillary reflex (her pupils get smaller when we shine a bright light in her eyes), so we do have some hope that her sight might improve in the future. Although there have been many cases of malaria in baby orangutans in other rescue centres, very few have had blindness as a symptom, so it is hard to predict what will happen to Rahayu from other cases.

Baby orangutan Bandut explores his new enclosureOur most recent rescue is luckily quite a healthy individual. His name is Bandut, and he is one and a half years old. He was rescued on 28 April in a town quite a few hours' drive away from Ketapang by our vet Anita, babysitter Dede and field director Argitoe. They left at 4am to be able to make the trip in a day and not arrive back too late.

Bandut is an extremely handsome little boy and knows very little of the life of a wild orangutan. He was kept by a childless husband and wife who treated him as their baby. He was pretty much fed the diet of a human infant (rice, milk etc.) and slept in bed with the wife. The couple is quite poor, but took care of him as best they could.

The story goes (again, you never know the level of truth it contains) that he was found by the side of the river as a tiny baby, still hairless and with the umbilical cord still attached. No mother in sight...

The couple took him into their home and the husband recently decided the time had come to give him a better life before bandut would become unmanageable.

After a long trip in the back of our pick-up, Bandut arrived at the IAR orangutan centre where he showed a lot of resilience, exploring his new home and eager to try new fruits more suitable to the diet of an orangutan. He is quite keen on contact with humans, so our main challenge will be teaching him the forest skills he has never learnt in his life till now.

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