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!