A total of 104 bullets have been found lodged in the body and head of a female orangutan, who was rescued last week by the Orangutan Foundation and Indonesian Government’s Natural Resources Conservation Agency of Central Kalimantan (KW II-BKSDA Kalimantan Tengah). The adult female, who has been named Aan, was rescued from an oil palm plantation. She was found huddled in a tree, terrified. After anaesthetising her Dr Fikri, the Foundation’s vet, and rescue staff found her to be underweight and possibly blind in her left eye – a bullet could be seen lodged in her forehead. Based on information from the oil palm company, who reported her to the Forest Police, Aan had been roaming the plantation for a month and is thought to have come from a small relic forest, 1km from the plantation.
Dr Fikri, took Aan to Pangkalan Bun hospital. X-rays revealed 37 bullets lodged in her head and 67 bullets scattered all over her body, including several bullets lodged in vital organs including her heart and lungs. She has many bullets and bullet holes in her head which may lead to severe infections and could be fatal.
Even if Aan survives, there are bullets lodged above both eyes so it is likely that she will become fully blind. Dr Fikri also reports many bullets lodged around both ears so she may also become deaf.
Pak Hartono, the Section Head of Conservation Areas II-Natural Resources Conservation Agency of (Central) Kalimantan Tengah (SKW II-BKSDA Kalteng) and the Orangutan Foundation issued a joint press release. He stated he was regretful about Aan’s condition and he emphasised the laws protecting orangutans and the consequences of breaking these laws (Indonesian law has forbidden anyone to capture, injure, kill, and keep protected wildlife and will be subject to imprisonment for five years and a fine of one hundred million rupiah).
Pak Hartono also called on the community who are keeping or know of protected animals to voluntarily hand them over to SKW II-BKSDA Kalteng. He went on to state that he hoped the relevant government agencies will evaluate licensing for development activities in order to maintain the balance of nature.
Pak Hartono’s department will continue to work with the Orangutan Foundation to seek the best for Aan’s welfare. With the help of a doctor, bullets lodged in her body will be removed. If the operations are successful and Aan recovers she will be moved to one of the release camps, in Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve, where Aan will housed in a purpose built enclosure.
The Foundation has been shocked and saddened by Aan’s condition. But her spirit to survive is strong and we will do all we can to help her. Aan’s tragic story highlights the importance of education and awareness and the need for continued protection of orangutan habitat. Please support us to help us achieve this.