The baby orangutan clings to his mother
The Orangutan Information Centre (OIC), our partner organisation in Sumatra, has conducted a dramatic rescue of a mother and baby orangutan. Sumatran orangutans are critically endangered and without urgent action could be the first Great Ape species to become extinct, so protecting every individual is crucial.
On 20 January, the Human Orangutan Conflict Response Unit (HOCRU) rescued the female orangutan and her baby, thought to be around 6 months old, from a patch of forest surrounded by farmlands in Ujung Padang village, South Aceh. The orangutans were isolated in some trees that were due to be cleared and planted with oil palms to produce palm oil, an ingredient found in up to half of packaged foods found on supermarket shelves.
HOCRU were assisted by the government national park office and BKSDA (Natural Resources Conservation Agency).
Panut Hadisiswoyo, Founder and Director of the OIC, said “The rescue didn't go entirely as planned, because after she had been sedated with a tranquiliser dart, the mother orangutan found an old nest and fell asleep, rather than dropping down into the net being held below to catch her. One of the team had to climb the tree and help to bring them down. Neither orangutan had any injuries, although the baby, a male around 6 months old, was thought to be underweight.”
Both mother and baby were released together into the Gunung Leuser National Park within two hours, and quickly climbed a tree and swung off into the canopy.
While this rescue is good news, there are still more orangutans in need of urgent help. Conflict between humans and orangutans is a growing problem.
Helen Buckland, Director of SOS, explains: “As more forest is replaced by oil palm plantations, more orangutans become isolated in forest patches. They are at serious risk of starvation or being killed if they wander into plantations in search of food. We set up the Human Orangutan Conflict Response Unit (HOCRU) with the OIC, our partners in Sumatra, to address this problem. The HOCRU team have saved the lives of more than 50 orangutans in the last two years, and are receiving more reports of animals needing help all the time.”
Helen said: “Every rescue is a high-risk operation for both the orangutans and the team, and an evacuation is only carried out as a last resort when the orangutan’s life is in greater danger if left in their current situation. With only around 6,500 Sumatran orangutans left in the wild, every individual is crucial for the survival of the species. We urgently need to raise funds so that the team in Sumatra can continue to help orangutans in danger, as well as supporting our projects and campaigns that work to protect and restore their forest home.”
The work of SOS and OIC is only possible with the help of our supporters. Please consider sharing this project report with your networks, and help us raise more funds so that the rescue team can reach more orangutans in danger.
The rescue team carry the orangutans to safety