19 November 2013

International Animal Rescue: Arrival of new rescue Rika

by volunteer Lisa Burtenshaw

At the end of October the team was called out to the village of Tumbang Titi, a four hour drive from Ketapang, to rescue a young orangutan called Rika, who was being kept as a pet.

This orangutan was chained to the house of her ownerRika is about three years old and her owners said they had been keeping her for the last three months, but we suspect she has been a pet for much longer as she is very habituated to people. Her last owner had paid about $50 for her and implied that he would like money for handing her over to us. But we will never pay for an orangutan because it only encourages the trade in them. 

Although Rika was kept in a small cage, she also spent time chained by the neck under the house, along with a dog and a pig. She was sometimes let off her chain and would go and make a nest, but would always return for food. She has some wounds on her neck from the chain and a skin infection but both are now being treated by our medical staff and are healing well. 
Rika is now in quarantine at the orangutan rescue centre

Rika’s hair is in poor condition as a result of a diet of vegetables and rice, but this will improve now she is being fed more suitable and nutritious food.

Rika is now in quarantine and has had a few health tests for which we are awaiting results. She has a very sweet personality and vocalises for attention.

4 November 2013

International Animal Rescue: October Orangutan Update

Rescued orangutan Santi is doing well post rescueThe beginning of October bought us new arrival Santi. She is about three years old and has had a chain of different owners; we think she originally came from the area of Singkup. She was surrendered to BKSDA (forestry department), who handed her over to us. We know very little about her background, but at her last placement she had been fed cake and bread and been kept in a cage. Santi looks to be in reasonable condition, with a coat of long, healthy hair but is currently in quarantine where she is waiting for test results to come back before we move her into one of the other groups.

Lots of the orangutans have been moved about this month. Cinta was the first to go into one of the new large socialisation cages. She can be quite destructive, but she is also easier to handle than a lot of the older girls, which makes her a good test case to see if the cages can stand up to the other strong and dextrous orangutans!

All our orangutans from the old transit site have now been moved to the new Sungai Awan site. It requires a lot of planning and co-ordinating to move the older orangutans. First they are sedated and while they are out the medical team do lots of health checks and test on them. They are weighed and measured, have hair and blood samples taken so that their general health can be tested for liver and kidney function and blood count. TB test are done by taking x-rays, a skin test, blood test and tracheal wash. Their teeth are also checked and photographed. A good way to tell the age of an orangutan is by their teeth. They are then put into transportation cages to come round from the anaesthesia, put onto a truck and driven to Sungai Awan, which is about thirty minutes drive out of Ketapang town. They watch with curiosity and interest at the world going by. Both Neng and Suki were immediately put into one of the new socialisation cages, which they both climbed to the top off and surveyed their new surroundings.

The old cages from transit centre are also being moved to the new site, where they are being repaired, repainted and refitted with new enrichment, thanks to the great work of The Orangutan Project volunteers, who have been working tirelessly to get the concrete bases and cages ready while competing with the tropical heat and monsoon storms now the rainy season has arrived.

Nicky, Huta, Mona and Mely have now all been reunited and are also now in one of the other large socialisation cages. Nicky was moved to the new centre a while ago when she was ill and she had been alone in the quarantine building while being treated and making a full recovery. She is such a friendly and playful orangutan that this was a joy to see her reunited with her old friends. They greeted each other with big hugs and now have fun chasing each other around and playing together.     
Pelangi is learning the ropesNow Pelangi has finished quarantine, she is being slowly introduced to the other members in baby school. Noel and Gunung took a lot of interest in her, manhandling her a lot, though she gave as good as she got! Marie is doing brilliantly, she loves exploring and climbing high in the trees, she often does this on her own, but likes to spend time with Gembar, who is also another great climber. As Marie is so small she still receives supplementary food from her carers. Onyo is now becoming more independent of the baby sitters. 

Kiki is doing well after being treated for a large load of intestinal parasites after living in a tiny cage full of excrement. We are awaiting results from his first quarantine exam, but he is still calm and gentle.

Ael, whose tragic story you can read here has now finished her quarantine. She is very nervous of humans and has the behaviour of a wild orangutan, She vocalises and shakes things to show her displeasure when she sees humans. We have introduced her to Sukma, another wild, but young female and we hope that Sukma will learn more from Ael to keep her wild behaviours. They are getting on well, sharing food and Ael reminds Sukma to be wary around humans. We plan to release them together when a suitable release site is found. 

You can help support the work of International Animal Rescue by purchasing the 2014 calendar here. 100% profit from the sales goes to IAR.

22 October 2013

International Animal Rescue: Update on Rescues, Translocations and New Arrivals!

By volunteer Lisa Burtenshaw

As ever, it’s been a busy couple of months for the team at the centre in Ketapang, with rescues, translocations and new arrivals.

Baby orangutan Pelangi was rescued from a birdcageIn mid-September we received Pelangi, a two year old female orangutan. Pelangi (Indonesian for 'rainbow') had been kept as a pet for about one year, in an area close to Ketapang, in Indonesian Borneo. Originally her owners purchased her for $50 USD after taking pity on her. She was kept in a birdcage and dressed in baby clothes, was given baths and fed on a diet of fruit and powdered milk.  

As you can see, she's proving to be a real natural at climbing!Pelangi has a fun personality, and is still in quarantine awaiting another round of tests.  In the meantime, she is eating fruits and vegetables very well, and enjoying her daily playtime in the tree.  She is getting braver and exploring and climbing higher each time.  She is adjusting well to her new situation although she still finds comfort in clinging to her teddy bear surrogate mother from time to time.  She will be introduced to baby school when her quarantine is done.

The team also rescued Kiki, an older male orangutan, who had been kept as a pet for many years. Kiki’s rescue story can be read here.

Ael is a wild female orangutan, captured and taunted by villagersAel is a wild orangutan who was rescued from a village after the villagers caught her. Ael’s rescue story can be read here.

Marie and her new buddy OnyoMarie passed quarantine and after a few play sessions with Onyo, she has now joined all the others in baby school, where she spends every day in the forest, climbing high in the trees looking for the fruit and vegetables that we hang to encourage the foraging skills of all the orangutans.

Although she has grown a lot, she is still the smallest member in baby school and needs some extra help and supplemental feeding from the babysitters. She spends her nights inside the baby school building, under the care of the night shift staff.

We also had a visit from The Orangutan Projects ambassadors Zoe Foster and Hamish Blake, who filmed for the Australian programme “A Current Affair” and are raising funds and awareness by encouraging donations to their special appeal for the rehabilitation of Rocky and Rickina. 

Building work is still going on at the Sungai Awan centre, with the large socialisation cages near completion we hope to move our final six adult orangutans from the old transit site very soon….

18 October 2013

International Animal Rescue: The rescue of Kiki

by vet Syifa Sidik

At the end of September our colleagues at The Centre for Orangutan Protection informed us of an orangutan living in frightful conditions in Kubu Raya Regency in West Kalimantan, some 150 kilometres from Ketapang. Knowing that this would be no easy task, on 5th October, in conjunction with the local BKSDA, our rescue team set off on the lengthy journey to Kubu Raya. One plane ride, car ride and some gruelling hours later, our team arrived at the house of Mr Hermansah, the owner of an adult male orangutan called Kiki. 
Chief vet Karmele meets Kiki the orangutan

Mr Hermansah is a retired soldier who was previously stationed near the border between West and Central Kalimantan. Even though he claimed to know and understand the regulations and prohibition on the purchase and keeping of orangutans, he did it anyway and, according to him, he had owned Kiki for 13 years! As he grew bigger and stronger Kiki became too much to handle and Mr Hermansah decided to to surrender him, but only to someone competent in the field of wildlife husbandry and particularly orangutans. Mr Hermansah claimed he had tried for several years to surrender Kiki to government officials in West Kalimantan and also contacted several NGOs and other organisations but to no avail. As he had no success finding a suitable place for Kiki, the orangutan entered adulthood living in a small cramped captive environment and not in the vast lush jungle of West Kalimantan. After examining him, our vet estimated Kiki’s age at between 8 and 10 years old. He is, however, incredibly small for his size owing to malnourishment and his cramped living conditions.
Kiki's sad expression says it all

Kiki has spent years housed in a small, rusty, steel cage with no door. His cage was placed directly on the dirty ground and was surrounded by mountains of excrement. His diet consisted of the usual food items that we have found orangutan owners feed their pets: rice, fried rice, coffee, snacks, fruits and vegetables, to name but a few. Kiki was also occasionally permitted out of his cage to play around Mr Hermansah’s house and to play with the neighbours. 

Kiki has a very calm temperament. During the 12 hour boat ride back to our rehabilitation centre in Sei Awan, near Ketapang, he was a model passenger, never displaying a bad temper and doing what the vet asked of him. He is safe now and settling in nicely at our quarantine facilities. 
The orangutan rescue team plan their rescue strategy

We’ll be bringing you more on Kiki when his time in quarantine is up and he’s ready to be introduced to some of the other orangutans at the centre.

4 October 2013

International Animal Rescue: We mark World Animal Day with a celebration of our Orangutan Rescue and Rehabilitation Project

To mark World Animal Day this year, we’re celebrating the wonderful work of our team in West Borneo rescuing orangutans and preparing them for release back into the wild. And we’re using baby orangutan Rickina to illustrate it.

Spanish volunteer Alejo Sabugo filmed a delightful short video of Rickina at our orangutan rescue centre in Borneo. She has a machete wound on her head which she probably sustained while clinging to her mother when she was attacked and killed. Thankfully little Rickina survived and her wound has now healed. 

The film shows how vulnerable baby orangutans are during the first months of their lives. These tiny babies would normally spend their days in the forest clinging tightly to their mothers, relying on them for food and protection. And so when orphaned babies first arrive at our rescue centre they are looked after by a team of babysitters. These dedicated local men and women provide the traumatised orphans with round-the-clock comfort and care. They wear face masks at all times to protect the babies from the human germs and diseases which could kill any orangutan, young or old.

While they are very small the baby orangutans also wear nappies to keep them free from infection. But once they are strong and healthy enough to join the older infants out in the forest the nappies come off and they start to learn how to live like a wild orangutan. 

The video shows Rickina during her first days at the rescue centre when she is as helpless and defenceless as a human baby. But after only a few weeks she is strong enough to be taken to “baby school” in the forest and meet some of the other young orangutans. The video of Rickina experiencing the outside world and learning to hang on the climbing frame is enchanting. She has an expression of complete wonder and surprise on her face as she dangles on the wooden structure. Her babysitter is constantly by her side to support and steady her.

The footage of Rickina as she starts to learn the ropes is far more than just another cute baby orangutan video – though it’s certainly that! But it also demonstrates the hours of patient coaching and care the orangutans are given to start them on their long journey to freedom. Day after day they are taken to the forest to build up their strength and develop the skills they will need to survive in the wild.

This is just the beginning for Rickina and her friends but it is a vital start to years of skilled preparation towards the day when they are released. Without the team in Borneo, these baby orangutans wouldn’t stand a chance. But thanks to International Animal Rescue – and thanks to everyone who supports us – the future is bright for Rickina and her friends. Watch this cute baby orangutan video to see just how brilliantly these babies are cared for.

Happy World Animal Day everyone!

16 September 2013

Yeeeha! Finally Muria becomes a fully wild slow loris again!

by Ayut Enggeliah Entoh from the Education Team

Muria was one of the rehabilitated slow lorises in the care of our primate rescue centre in Ciapus, Java. She is a female Javan slow loris (Nycticebus javanicus), given by the pet owner to our team in Indonesia in 2010. After completing the rehabilitation process at the centre, she was then transported to the habituation cage in Salak Mountain National Park. Fitted with a radio collar, she spent about three months being habituated to her new surroundings. She was then released on 14 June 2012 and monitored by the IAR team for about fifteen months. On 9 September 2013, Muria’s collar was removed and she became a fully wild slow loris again. 

During the monitoring process Muria was reported as having a slight irritation on her neck, so she was recaptured and given medical treatment by the veterinary team. Once recovered, she was released once more. Monitoring has confirmed her ability to fend for herself in the wild. She was seen feeding on nectar of Kaliandra (Calliandra calothyrsus) and Seuseureuhan (Piper aduncum), sap of Jengkol (Archidendron pauciflorum) and various insects too. She was even observed mating with a wild slow loris. It proved that she was completely habituated to her environment and had every chance of living successfully back in the wild.

Conservation efforts for wildlife like slow lorises which involve the process of releasing them back into the wild are not straightforward. It’s not as easy as taking them from their habitat. One loris has to follow a long process before they can be returned to nature. 

It becomes our homework to spread the message on slow loris conservation. And we would like to invite you to spread the conservation message with us: “Please stop hunting, buying and keeping slow lorises as a pet!

21 August 2013


World Orangutan Day is an annual, worldwide event to create awareness and support for orangutans and for all the people who dedicate their lives to saving these iconic animals from extinction.

The main threats to orangutans are habitat loss because of the conversion of forest areas into monocultures and mining, followed by hunting for bushmeat. Many orangutans get captured or killed crossing plantations to find food after being dislodged by the increasing destruction of their habitat. Adult females are often killed and their infants sold in the illegal wildlife pet trade. Orangutan populations are estimated to have declined over 50% during the last 60 years, leaving the danger of imminent extinction in the wild very real.

International Animal Rescue’s rehabilitation centre for orangutans is located in West Kalimantan which is one of the most heavily deforested areas of Borneo. Between November 2009 and August 2013 more than 75 orangutans have been rescued by the IAR team in Indonesia (Yayasan IAR Indonesia - YIARI) and brought to the sanctuary of our centre and the number of animals in need is rising.

To increase awareness and knowledge about Indonesian orangutans YIARI collaborated with two other local NGOs, Gunung Palung Orangutan Conservation Programme and Fauna and Flora International-Indonesian Programme and the local Forestry Department and organised a march between the two biggest roundabouts on the main street of Ketapang.

About 150 people from all four organisations gathered on World Orangutan Day to distribute 500 tree seedlings, stickers and posters to passing motorists and pedestrians whilst holding up signs with conservation messages and singing an orangutan song. Participants from the Forestry Department spoke about orangutans and the threats they face via a loudspeaker.

Whilst this day is a symbol of global connectivity and action and important to create a greater public awareness and understanding nationally, it is equally (or perhaps even more) important to educate the communities living alongside orangutan habitat and engage as many locals as possible to participate in the conservation of this unique species. 

8 August 2013

Updates on our orangutans large and small!

by vet Christine Nelson from the US

Desi, Prima and Helen hang out in the new enclosure
The past month was busy as usual in Ketapang and Sungai Awan, and was kicked off by moving Prima, one of our adolescent females, to the forest enclosure. Here she was reunited with her former cagemate, Helen, and a couple of other friends. Helen and Prima are the next candidates for release, but their behavior must be evaluated first to ensure they will be able to survive in the wild. In the enclosure, the girls are observed from the time they wake up until the time they go to sleep for the night, which makes for a long day! Some food is provisioned, but they are free to search the trees for fruit and leaves. Data is taken to determine how they are spending their time, what kind of forest foods they are finding and where, and how efficiently they are making their nests.

Aside from the group of females that moved earlier in July (see Adult Orangutans on the Move), the team has also started to transfer some of our older males to the new center. There is a load of coordination and preparation that goes into any move, but it is worth it when all is accomplished safely and efficiently.  Much like their female counterparts, John, Patrick, and Jimo had smooth anesthesias and were very curious to see the bustling streets of Ketapang fly by during the transport. They are now busy exploring and adjusting to their new temporary digs in the more tranquil setting of Sungai Awan. They will move into larger, outdoor enclosures when construction is finished.

The gorgeous new addition
July has also brought us a tiny new baby named Marie. She literally arrived on our doorstep one evening after being surrendered to IAR by her temporary owner. Marie only weighs about 2 kilograms, but she is likely around 7 to 9 months old. She is thin and very small for her age, potentially due to malnourishment. She does show some promising wild behavior, as she climbs well on her hammock, likes to play with leaves, and loves to eat the fruit we pick for her. The baby was found by a fisherman who was walking in the forest and heard crying. He says the little orangutan was there alone (which would be highly unusual), so he took her back to his home when her mother did not come for her. The man kept her for a couple of weeks, but decided to hand her over to IAR because he could not afford to feed her any longer. She was bathed often, had been eating rice and bananas, and was given milk, sometimes the strawberry-flavored variety. We may never know the fate of her mother or Marie’s true story, but we are glad she is now under our care. 

25 July 2013

International Animal Rescue: Freedom for long-tailed macaques

by Tine Rattel

On 6 June this year, a further seventeen long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) were released on Panaitan island within the Ujung Kulon National Park in West Java.
All individuals went through the rehabilitation process at our centre in Ciapus, which includes behavioural observations, introduction to natural foods, group forming and enrichment provision to stimulate natural behaviours. Some macaques have been in the centre since 2009. Most of the macaques are rescued from the pet trade and have often been kept in tiny cages for many years from a young age.

Veterinarian Sharmini and macaque keeper
Wayne rescuing Cheetah in 2011 from his
prison cage where he had spent most of his
life. Cheetah was one of the group of macaques
released last month into Ujung Kulon National
For example, one of the released macaques, Cheetah, was rescued in 2011 by IAR Indonesia. He had been bought as a baby from a pet market and had been kept for seven years in the same cage, never being let out. The owners now wanted to get rid of him because he was (understandably) becoming more aggressive towards the owners. He then spent the next two years being rehabilitated at IAR’s Rescue Centre.

Prior to release all macaques received a general health check-up. They were also weighed, given microchips for future identification and were sterilised. The released individuals were selected for release based on health condition and behavioural results from pre-release monitoring.

Since the macaque release programme at the Ujung Kulon National Park started in 2009 our team in Indonesia has now released a total of 86 long-tailed macaques back to the wild, a process supported by the Natural Resources Conservation Agency of Indonesia (BKSDA).

Ciapus Programme Manager Aris Hidayat commented Unfortunately, under the current law, macaques still do not have any legal protection in Indonesia. Some of the animals were surrendered by their owners and others were simply abandoned. Giving these animals the chance to return to the wild, where they belong, serves their individual welfare and IAR’s dedication to rescue and rehabilitate suffering animals”.

Ujung Kulon National Park encompasses an area of 1,206 km² (443 km² marine), most of which is situated on a peninsula stretching out into the Indian Ocean. It was Indonesia’s first proposed national park and was declared a UNESCO WORLD Heritage Site in 1991 for containing the largest remaining lowland rainforest in Java. The park is rich in biodiversity including 40 species of mammals (five of which are primates), 240 species of birds, 59 species of reptiles, 22 species of amphibians, 142 species of fish, 33 species of corals and 57 rare plant species.
Macaque cages en route to freedom

This habitat is protected and provides sufficient food to support permanent macaque populations and is therefore an ideal release site for our animals.

We hope that our macaques enjoy their new freedom as they become more and more familiar with their surroundings, the lush green forest homes where these animals are meant to be.

23 July 2013

Adult orangutans on the move

By veterinarian Micah Jensen

The IAR centre in Ketapang has been a hive of activity in the last few weeks in preparation for the big orangutan move. Last week four of our largest female orangutans Mona, Huta, Mely and Cinta were moved from their housing at the old transit centre in Ketapang City to the newly built IAR rehabilitation site in Sungai Awan. This is a considerable change for the girls since they have been housed at the transit centre in Ketapang for several years. However with the construction of the new Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre well under way animals are being moved in stages from their old housing to the new site. While most of the younger individuals have already been moved to the forested rehabilitation area, it is now time to start moving the larger orangutans. Orangutans are known for their strength and ingenuity, they are the escape artist of the great apes, so special care needs to go into their enclosure preparation to ensure the areas are orangutan proof. The cages at the old centre are deteriorating with age, leaving the staff with the daunting task of trying to weld away rust as fast as tropical rain creates it. Thankfully when our handyman Dade comes to repair cages with his welding gear, he becomes great enrichment for the orangutans to watch!
Mely relaxes in her hammock!

The first step to their freedom was to move the four girls into the quarantine enclosure in Sungai Awan, which requires a general anaesthetic and a truck ride to their new home situated half an hour out of Ketapang. The quarantine enclosures at the new centre have been refreshed with new cage enrichment and a fresh coat of paint thanks to the Great Project volunteers, along with shiny new locks put in place that should keep Mona one of our craftiest females at bay.  When selecting which group of the large orangutans should be moved from transit first, Mona’s group was at the top of the list. The artful Mona had years ago been the mastermind behind an escape from her cage where she took three of her cage mates with her to raid the food room!

Clever Mona was first up for an anaesthetic as she can be the most suspicious of unusual events. Mona was anaesthetized by blow dart, while Cinta, Huta and Mely were very accommodating and all accepted hand injections of anesthesia through the bars. The girls were thankfully very co-operative, gently going to sleep, giving us smooth anaesthetics with rapid recoveries in their transport crates.
The blow dart is sometimes the safest
way to sedate these large animals

Christine thoroughly examines the
mouth for teeth issues
Anaesthetics provided a golden opportunity for the vet team to get close enough to each of the girls to give a full physical exam and collect any samples needed for health and genetics. Our team of veterinary staff and animal caretakers all worked like a synchronised sports team to get all the procedures done efficiently in a minimal amount of time. This is no mean feat considering it involved collecting blood samples, tracheal washes, hair samples, dental records, and growth measurements while giving a full general physical exam, taking x-rays and maintaining a smooth anaesthesia, all within half an hour.  After this flurry of activity the girls woke up from their unusual sleep on piles of leaves in their transport cages.  The crates were then loaded onto the back of flatbed trucks and the girls were able to watch people driving alongside, as we drove out of the town and into the rural area of the Sungai Awan Centre. They all sat watching intently with their fingers laced through the bars and Cinta moved leaves away to ensure she got a better view. The only hitch was a light shower of rain on the last ride back to the centre which was quite amusing for Cinta and Mely as they got to watch from their dry cages as the people and equipment around them got soaking wet.

A rare chance for the vets to get up close with
the adult orangutans
On arrival the girls all moved from their crates straight into their new cage and made themselves comfortable swinging in the new hammocks and bails. Within no time Mona was testing out every inch of the cage to exploit any weaknesses in the handywork. It will take a while for them to adjust to the new surroundings so we are providing lots of food, branches and enrichment to settle them in. The day after being moved Mona took advantage of her new settings and used her keen sense of timing to steal a cup of electrolytes off one of the new vets, but, rather than destroy the cup, she rested herself against the cage door and lazily used the cup of liquid to dunk her biscuits in. So she seems to be settling in nicely so far.

Photography by Thomas Burns

16 July 2013

An in-depth look at IAR's slow loris rehabilitation process

by Namrata B Anirudh

The IAR Indonesia centre in Ciapus, Bogor currently has 81 lorises consisting of 3 species – Nycticebus Coucang, N. Javanicus and N. Menagensis - rescued from pet owners and housed for rehabilitation and subsequent release. 

I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to carry out behavioural studies as part of my dissertation on the captive lorises at the centre.

The Loris Project at the centre is a multi-dimensional one. A controversial and current problem with the illegal pet trade is the hunting of lorises from the wild and selling them in markets which are not suitable for any animals let alone endangered species. Apart from the conservation aspect, the cruelty towards these species in the market before they are sold is of great concern to people working in the field of rescue and rehabilitation. IAR Indonesia not only deals with the immediate problem of rehabilitating confiscated individuals, but also deals with other aspects of this trade, such as awareness-building among students and the public in major cities, in local villages around loris habitats; conducting interviews with people involved in different aspects of the trade; scouting for suitable release locations and monitoring those released from the centre.
Outreach work in Bogor
I worked with animals at the centre and therefore I can shed some light on this aspect of the work being done. The animals at the centre are confiscated at different ages. Some animals were born at the centre whereas some come in as juveniles or adults. The process of rehabilitation of species such as lorises can be tricky. The lack of abundant research on these species, the fact that they are nocturnal, sensitive to diseases, of small body size, possessing a different social repertoire from other diurnal primates and their coping strategies in a captive environment all make them difficult species to manage. However, in my view IAR Indonesia succeeds in managing them in the best possible way within those obvious constraints.

Erwin eating gum enrichment
The lorises are housed in cages, provided with trees, foliage, branches and twine in order to create a variety of substrates for locomotion, sleep and to be able to express as natural behaviour as possible. They are fed twice a day with a pre-set nutritional diet planned by the on-site veterinarians, with special attention given to those that are suffering from health problems and mother-infant pairs.

For the purpose of rehabilitation, International Animal Rescue ensures the following:
·         Arboreal
o   As these species are arboreal, all the food and water trays are placed at a height.
o   Sleeping sites, such as bamboo hollows and baskets are hung from the top of the cages.
o   Routine replacement of leaves and branches is carried out to make the cages suitable for the animals.
·         Insectivorous and frugivorous
o   Diet consisting of insects and fruits is provided. Every meal (fed twice in their active period) consists of different fruits and insects to avoid boredom and to provide them with their nutritional requirements.
o   The food is placed at a considerable height from the ground to encourage feeding at heights and minimise foraging on the ground.

o   All enrichment provided is food related. Enrichment is provided to the animals after the second meal, to encourage activity and discourage unwanted behaviours such as stereotypies and inactivity throughout the rest of their active period.
·         Grouping
o   The animals are grouped 2, 3 or 4 per cage depending on the cage size. Some cages have only a single loris depending on the type of social interactions with other conspecifics.
o   The groups are created according to the sex of the individuals, the type and amount of social interaction with others and depending on whether they are release or non-release candidates.
o   In my view, this aspect in the process of rehabilitation is vital, as socialisation is vital to the physical and mental welfare of an animal.
·         Sanctuary
o   The lorises that are to be released are housed in sanctuary cages. These cages are larger in size, have more foliage and trees and are partially covered by a roof. This is another very important point in rehabilitation, to get the animals accustomed to natural weather conditions and changes. The cages also have fruit trees to encourage foraging and reduce the dependency on the food provided to them.

An enthusiastic and motivated group of people manage the animals at the centre. My experience of working closely with them has shown that they know a lot about the individual animals and are keen to look after their welfare. It was interesting to see that they were also interested in different ways of creating enrichment that would reduce stereotypies in some of the individuals. The team is involved in cleaning, feeding and observing the animals. One to be released and 2 non-release animals are taken as focal animals and behavioural observations are recorded for 1 and 2 hours respectively every night, using an ethogram of social, individual and locomotory behaviours.
What could be worked on at the centre?

-          The movement of animals between cages - this is an important point as moving an animal from one cage to another could be stressful at many levels, such as forming new social bonds, getting used to the cage and its features, novel interactions, unfamiliarity. All of these could lead to behavioural problems. Another aspect is the welfare of the individuals present in the cage into which a new individual is introduced. Depending on the sex, age and the social ranking of the introduced individual, the form of interaction with the others may have an impact and may lead to negative interactions, resulting in injuries or stereotypic behaviour. The movement of individuals must therefore be done with a lot of care and understanding of the situation. The reason for movement should also be considered - Is the shift necessary or is there a way of dealing with the problem through any other methods? (eg enrichment, changing amount of foliage, substrates for locomotion – depending on the problem.) If a shift is made, then the animal shifted, as well as the animals originally present in the cage, must be observed for behaviour, food intake, interactions etc.

-          Increase height of cages - this is a problem that is difficult to deal with as the cages have already been established and have animals in each one of them. If the purpose is rehabilitation and lorises in the wild frequent trees up to 30 to 40 m in height, a similar opportunity must be provided at the centre as well, to avoid problems of predation for foraging too low after release. The height of the cages currently ranges from 2m to 8m (sanctuary). Since animals spend only a short time in the sanctuary cages before release, it is not sufficient for them to learn to use such heights.

-          Enrichment that is currently based only on food is effective but only for the period of time the enrichment lasts. Some of the enrichment lasts for a very short period or is not of interest to some individuals who spend a large proportion of their active period carrying out stereotypical behaviour. Introducing locomotory enrichment or finding a solution to discourage or reduce stereotypy is vital in the process of rehabilitation as well. A good way to go about it is in some cases to figure out the reason for stereotyping. Some tend to stereotype most before feeding and reduce stereotypic behaviour after being fed, some stereotype in the presence of a dominant conspecific, others during feeding which could be a result of the type of food or the competition in the cage for food. In others that stereotype for more than 50% of their active time, the reasons could be past experiences or small home range or reasons that cannot be determined, thus using some form of enrichment, trying to introduce/change the conspecific in the same cage or shift cages may be helpful.

In my opinion, the centre is making great efforts to turn around the current situation in the best way possible. Although there are areas that can be explored further, new ideas implemented and changes made to various aspects of the project, in my view the current project on the lorises deals with the situation holistically. Working with species like lorises has many constraints that are challenging but the centre manages to tackle a number of them and provide rehabilitation for those rescued which has been proven to be effective. The centre is also successfully returning a number of the lorises to their rightful home in the wild!

Returning a slow loris to the wild

For more information on the work International Animal Rescue does with slow lorises, please visit our website!

9 July 2013

International Animal Rescue: June update from Ketapang

Another month goes by in a flash! 

by Christine Nelson

Butan's "lipstick" is a bit of a giveaway!
Time flies when you are having fun! The orangutans in the forest school group move spots almost daily to help preserve the integrity of the trees, although this proves quite difficult when there are more than thirty playful individuals! Some of the animals are still gaining confidence and stick closer to their human keepers, but it is a happy sight to see Merah, Laksmi, Butan, and Marcela appear with stained lips and tongues from eating fruit they have found for themselves in the forest.

With help from our dedicated volunteers, a new location for baby school was constructed, giving our youngest rehabilitants more access to sunlight and a better section of forest.  This area has larger trees to climb and cool tools for snacks to be given in the heights.  Despite the new location, Tribun and Gembar are quickly outgrowing baby school and will soon need to learn the ropes in forest school.

The youngsters love this feeding platform

The team continues to take behavior observation data on some individuals as an assessment tool to determine when they could be considered for release back into the wild.  The orangutans must be followed and watched closely for several hours, and sometimes its hard to keep up with them as they swing through the trees!  

We are also outlining schedules to move more animals from our transit center to their new Sungai Awan home in the next couple of weeks.

 Don't forget to swing over to our Facebook page for more fab photos of the orangutans enjoying themselves in the forest!