27 March 2012

Cute baby Marsela joins the family in Ketapang

Volunteers Silje Robertson and Jesus Mayoral introduce Marsela...

The latest arrival at the orangutan rescue centre is Marsela, a cute baby of 3 to 4 years. She is named after the street she was found on, Jalan Marsela. The street runs through a palm oil plantation and it was security staff at this plantation who found Marsela crossing the street alone. As the mother was nowhere in sight they caught her and brought her to us on March 16th after learning about our rescue centre from the Gunung Palung National Park and the local forestry department. She is fairly shy and wild, and very scared of humans. That is normal considering she has come straight from what used to be forest and now sadly has become a palm oil plantation.

She was under a lot of stress and showing aggressive behaviour when she first arrived at IAR but after almost 2 weeks in our care she is seemingly doing better, eating well and is less sceptical. Fortunately, even though she is a little underweight for her age, she looks healthy and hopefully will have a bright future.

23 March 2012

William and Wince

Lonely William finds a mate! Volunteer Tine Rattel tells us more...
Long-tailed macaques like most primates are very sociable animals and live in large groups in the wild. William is one of our long-tailed macaques, he is heavily-built and is quite dominant. Housed all alone for years without any social contact, he showed a lot of stereotypical behaviour. For that reason, we always try to socialise new animals as soon as possible with other individuals of their species.

In general, it is easier to introduce males and females to each other, particularly if one or both animals have a dominant character. As much as we try to find a suitable partner for everybody, this can sometimes be difficult, particularly if we have a sex-ratio imbalance. Therefore, first of all William was introduced to Cheeta, one of our other long-tailed macaque males. We tried for a few days but they had a lot of fights so we decided to split them up again. It was not easy to find a suitable mate for William but finally Wince, a shy young female, came into the rescue centre. We placed both of them next to each other first for a few days after she came out of quarantine. The keepers saw them several times grooming each other through the wire mesh which was promising, so we let them both in together. There were no fights at all and we saw them immediately mating and grooming. William shows less abnormal behaviour since he is not on his own any more and we hope to see a continuing improvement over time. The next step will be to add two more females, Engkis and Herang to form gradually a social group which we will hopefully be able to release into the wild in the future.

8 March 2012

We rescue sad Ceria

Silje Robertson introduces a second new arrival to our centre this week...

On 7 March our team was called out on another rescue operation. Only 20 minutes drive from the centre a young female orangutan was being held captive in the town of Mulia baru, Ketapang.

The owner claimed to have found her hurt on the ground in a palm oil plantation a week earlier, but changed his story a few times during the time we were with him, so as usual there is no way of knowing the truth about the animal’s background.

She was kept in a cage outside their house together with a large number of hens. She had a chain around her neck, confining her movements inside the already small cage. Although the skin in the area where the chain was is not damaged, the lack of hair and the skin colour indicates that she had been wearing the chain longer than the seven days claimed by the owner.

Her name is Ceria which in Indonesian means happy or carefree, and it is a tragic irony. She is clearly depressed, nervous, underweight and suffering from malnourishment.

Fortunately she is eating and drinking well with us and seems to have no other medical problems. Her estimated age is 3-4 years old; she has long healthy hair and looks so much like Butan that they could be sisters. She will be monitored closely during her quarantine period, even more so because of the possible health risks associated with living so closely with poultry.

6 March 2012

The Great Projects volunteers do great work to help the orangutans

Volunteer vet Jesus Mayoral from Spain meets some of the volunteers working hard to help us build our much needed permanent rescue and rehabilitation centre...

Priority 1: Building a new enclosure for our babies
This last month we have been so lucky to have a group of volunteers from The Great Projects team at the centre. They have been sweating and working hard almost every day, either building fences or cementing at the new centre or helping the staff make enrichment for the orangutans. They also constructed a wonderful new play platform at the baby school.

Not only were they fully committed and totally devoted to orangutans, they were really charming people with plenty of experience and knowledge to share with all of us. These are statements from some of them, I hope YOU will be inspired by what they say and want to help us build the new centre too!

Construction of the security tower is under way
Lisa and Noel from the UK:
“Being involved in the early stages of the construction of IAR’s new rehabilitation centre, we felt we were making a truly valuable and very visible contribution to the ongoing rehabilitation work that IAR carries out. The staff is realistic, open and very candid in their approach to rehabilitation, and this, alongside their transparency in where your financial contribution goes, and their obvious embracement and gratitude for the volunteer programme they have, means that we would recommend this programme to you unreservedly over other options in volunteer work with orangutans.

This could be YOU!
“Even though some of the work we have done has been physically demanding and the environment challenging, it’s been a highly rewarding, hugely enjoyable and very memorable experience.”

Fiona from Switzerland:
“I guess, in the end it was this combination that made me loving this project so much: on the one hand, you felt really helpful (even if you didn't bring in some special building skills) and being involved in an important process. And on the other hand, the project also consisted of this element of education - we had the possibility to visit Semengoh and Matang on our first day and - even more important - I learned so much on the days we spent at the IAR Transit Centre and it was just great to get in touch with people who have such a big knowledge and such a big experience in what concerns the orangutan conservation. Also, the whole team never got tired of answering all our questions!”

To find out how you too could volunteer and help orangutans, visit The Great Projects.

5 March 2012

Introducing Desi

Vet Silje Robertson introduces another new arrival to our emergency rescue centre in Ketapang…

Last week our team ventured out on a new rescue operation. Our investigator had discovered an orangutan being held captive in the town of Pemangkat, Melano. Together with the forestry department and our collaborating organisation Yayasan Gunung Palung we set out last Friday 2 March.

The young female orangutan, called Desi, had been with the family for over two years, living outside their house in a steel cage of about 2 square metres. She was very dirty and clearly distressed when our team arrived, but otherwise in good condition. The family claimed at the time to have bought her from a palm oil plantation worker. Desi had been fed whatever her owners had available: at times fruit but more often rice, chicken and other human food items.

She is quite habituated to humans and in our quarantine cage she is still nervous and shy and clearly needs time to adjust to her new situation. Desi is about 4-5 years old. Fortunately she seems in good health, has long beautiful hair and is eating with a good appetite. We will give her the time she needs to feel safe with us and, once she finishes her quarantine period, we will introduce her to her new friends and environment.