Vet

Caged for 7 years. Young orangutan kept as a pet is finally offered a lifeline.

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It’s never a phone call we wish to receive, but in the same week that our team rescued a pair of wild orangutans from an isolated oil palm plantation, we received news of another orangutan being kept as a pet also in need of rescue. The owner had contacted government officials as they could no longer care for the ape, and therefore Orangutan Foundation staff were called upon to assist.

Arriving at the property where the orangutan was being kept in Central Kalimantan, Borneo, it quickly became apparent that the individual had been kept there a very long time. Our team tentatively approached a wooden crate with litter strewn on the ground surrounding it.

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The orangutan had been named Pegi by her owner. It transpired that Pegi was a female orangutan found as a 1-year-old in 2012 and incredibly had been living in her cramped wooden crate as a pet for the following 7 years on a diet of rice, noodles, fruit and sugary drinks. Certainly not a diet suitable for orangutans.

After obtaining as much information about the young orangutan as possible and informing the owner of the prohibitions around keeping wild animals’ captive, our team freed Pegi from her cage and transported her to a government facility (BKSDA) where her health could be inspected.

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Fortunately under examination Pegi seemed in good health, and as her blood tests received the all-clear, she was ready to be taken to her new home at Camp Buluh in the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve. It’s here that she’ll join another orphaned orangutan, Okto, in our soft-release programme, with the hope of one day being released into the wild.

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The early years of any orangutan’s life are the most important in order to learn how to survive in the wild. With Pegi’s traumatic start to her young life, and perhaps never even climbing a tree before, she will need encouragement to learn these skills in the best possible training ground there is- the forest.

Pegi is given some browse to begin the enrichment process

Pegi is given some browse to begin the enrichment process

Young orangutan rescued

Yesterday, we rescued a young orangutan, aged approximately 5-years-old. Sadly, the mother was absent, we don’t know what happened to her but most likely she has died, mother orangutans would not readily abandon their offspring.

Tranquillised orangutan, named Panglima

Tranquillised orangutan, named Panglima

The Wildlife Rescue Unit (WRU) team was made up of the Central Kalimantan Wildlife Department (BKSDA) and Orangutan Foundation. The Wildlife Department had received reports about an orangutan seen in a community orchard. The rescue team drove 45 minutes from the town of Pangkalan Bun to the reported location in the Pangkalan Lima area, South Arut District.

Orangutan nest high up in the tree

Orangutan nest high up in the tree

When the team arrived they saw two nests in one tree, but there was no sign of an orangutan. After a while the team decided to return to Pangkalan Bun. In the afternoon, the team received another report about the orangutan and so they returned. This time they saw a young orangutan very high up in the trees. The team decided to follow the orangutan until it nested in hope they could get a clear shot with the dart gun. Unfortunately they couldn’t and because it was getting dark and unsafe they decided to return very early the next morning, when hopefully the orangutan would still be in his nest.

Preparing the dart gun to tranquillise the young orangutan

Preparing the dart gun to tranquillise the young orangutan

Climbing up the tree to rescue the sedated wild orangutan.

Climbing up the tree to rescue the sedated wild orangutan.

The next morning, in the torrential rain, the rescue team arrived at the nest location at 4.30am. The orangutan was found above a nest, not far from where they had left him. The dart gun was prepared so that the orangutan could be tranquillised. They managed to get a clear shot and the orangutan fell into its nest. One of the rescue team climbed a 10-meter tall tree and managed to carry the orangutan down.

The Orangutan Foundation vet immediately conducted an examination and the orangutan was male, weighing approximately 15kg and was estimated at around 5-years-old. Our vet, Dr. Dimas Yufrizar, took blood samples for laboratory tests and gave injections of multivitamins and antibiotics.

The orangutan has been named Panglima (relating to the rescue location) - giving orangutans names helps the field staff with post-release monitoring and communications.

Tranquillised orangutan being examined by Orangutan Foundation vet

Tranquillised orangutan being examined by Orangutan Foundation vet

Panglima was transported to the Pangkalan Bun BKSDA SKW II office where he is being kept temporarily in a holding cage. Hendra Gunawan, Orangutan Foundation Program Manager said BKSDA have requested that the orangutan be translocated to the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve, a protected area. Before release, Hendra said Panglima will be isolated until his blood tests return and then habituated for three months. His condition will be monitored by the Orangutan Foundation vet and field staff.

The rescue team are confident that Panglima’s release into the reserve will be successful and that he will go on to live a wild and safe life in the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve.

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