18 April 2013

International Animal Rescue's Primate Diaries: Dramatic rescues

Four more are safe...

...For now.

This mother tried to hide up the only remaining tree. The
team searched desperately for her baby but without success 
International Animal Rescue and the local foresty department (BKSDA) in Ketapang received reports of several orangutans trapped in the fragmented areas of forest near a palm oil plantation in Tanah Merah, which is about 3 hours by car from the new rescue and rehabilitation centre in Sungai Awan. With their forest home destroyed, the animals scattered and began to wander the area in search of food and a new place to live. The palm oil company asked for help to move the orangutans, who had become a nuisance because they were eating the young fruits from the palm oil trees.  A collection of forestry department workers, assisted by individuals from IAR, had already begun conducting environmental surveys in the bordering forest to find an appropriate place to relocate the orangutans. They found evidence that the orangutans were eating bark and stems, as there was little fruit and few leaves available.

Our team worked fast on a general health check while
the animals were sedated
In the third week of March, the rest of the IAR/BKSDA team arrived to see the desolate and depressing landscape, which is the product of the destruction of the forest within the borders of the plantation. Workers from the palm oil company helped the team to locate the individuals in need of rescue. The first was an adult female who had been spotted with a baby. When the rescue team arrived, the baby could not be found, and it is suspected that it was taken to be kept as a pet, sold to the highest bidder, or worse. The mother, who was still lactating, scrambled high into a single bare tree, so there was no good way to sedate her at that time. The group waited for her to come down and followed her across the apocalyptic terrain before she was safely captured.  

This orangutan and her baby were starving to death due to
A second female was caught while traveling along the ground, and she was found to be pregnant. It was already dark when she recovered from the sedative, but she had to be released that night as she was very stressed in the transport cage.

The last two to be moved came together as a mother-baby pair, which complicated the darting process because the baby was clinging tightly to her mother’s back the entire time.  Both were very thin, but the mother handled the drugs well, and the baby silently watched while still clinging on.

The baby clung tightly to his mother throughout the entire
Heavy rain fell on the team and the animals during the transfer, but everyone made it safely to the forest at the border of the plantation. The future remains questionable for all in the forest, and saving the land from further industrial use is of utmost importance for the orangutans.

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