Orangutan rescued from Indonesian plantation returned to wild

Jakarta, Aug 20 (efe-epa).- Animal rights activists and wildlife officials have released an orangutan, an endangered species, on the Indonesian part of Borneo island after rescuing the ape from a palm oil plantation where it had gone missing, International Animal Rescue said Thursday.

In a statement, IAR said the orangutan, which weighs between 60 and 70 kilograms and is between 30 and 40 years old, was released into the rainforest in western Borneo on Tuesday after sedating it and transporting it across a river, away from poachers and plantations.

The activists, who were working alongside officials with a local conservation group, said that the transfer was completed without complications.

The ape was in good health, but they warned that an increase in forest fires in the area is severely damaging and reducing the orangutan’s natural habitat.

Some of the apes have been known to flee to areas populated by humans, leading to clashes and the risk of the spread of zoological diseases from animals to humans, Karmele Llano Sanchez, director of IAR Indonesia, told Efe.

The release took place one week after another two orangutans were sent to Borneo after being rescued on the Indonesian island of Java, where they had spent years malnourished locked inside a cage.

The apes, one of which was rescued from a private home with the other freed from a tourist park, were taken to a rehabilitation center in Ketapang, in wester Borneo, in the hopes that they might be returned to their natural habitat. Their reintegration into the wild is expected to be fraught with complications due to the trauma the animals have been put through.

The Indonesian government estimates that 71,640 orangutans live on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo – the latter which Indonesia shares with Malaysia and Brunei – although the population is in decline, according to a government study published in 2017.

The main threat to orangutans is deforestation, mainly in Borneo, due to palm oil plantations and, to a lesser extent, the paper and mining industry. EFE-EPA


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