A New Rescue, An Old Face, A Re-rescue Story!

A New Rescue, An Old Face, A Re-rescue Story!

Posted by Georgia Wilson on 30th Jul 2021

It’s an unfortunate truth that orangutans are driven out of their habitat due to the clearing of forests, this practice forces orangutans to venture further afield and often into human settlements to look for food which usually ends in conflict, seeing either party injured and, in some cases, killed. One adult male orangutan though, became a frequent visitor to the residents of Loesan village, especially after receiving food from them including canned milk.

News of the orangutan’s visits had spread widely on social media and was cause for concern as orangutans should and usually avoid direct contact with people. Alongside this, wild animals should not be fed human food which is far removed from their natural food sources. For this reason, the East Kalimantan Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) in partnership with the Borneo Orangutan Sanctuary Foundation (BOSF) team executed a rescue mission which had some surprising results.

Rescue Mission Of Adult Orangutan

On June 6th, the rescue team arrived at the village, but the Loesan orangutan was nowhere to be seen. After setting up camp, Loesan (the temporary name given to the orangutan) returned to the village on June 10th. The team were able to conduct the rescue, requiring anaesthesia administered by Samboja Lestari veterinarian Muhtadin Wahyu. Before Loesan was moved from the village, Muhtadin established through a brief check that the orangutan had a misshapen left index finger, an implanted microchip and through a dental examination, was determined to be roughly 20 years old.

Arriving at the Samboja Lestari Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre on June 11th, and assessing that Loesan was in a stable condition, the veterinary team were able to conduct a thorough examination including swabs, blood tests, fingerprinting, DNA samples and x-rays; all results indicated that Loesan was in good health. The most interesting find of all though, was the microchip implanted under his skin indicating that he had undergone rehabilitation at some point in his life.

Health Check of Adult Male Orangutan

Further analysis of his microchip and checking of the Samboja Lestari inventory data showed that ‘Loesan’ was, in fact, Uli! Rescued on February 6th 1998, Uli was taken to Wanariset, an old BOSF orangutan rehabilitation centre. Records show that he was released back into the wild in a protected forest at a young age the following year. Now Uli is approximately 24 years old and has survived over 20 years without human involvement!

Uli is currently undergoing a period of quarantine before being transferred to a pre-release island, following this, he will be returned to the wild far from any human developments. In the meantime, he is in safe hands at the Samboja Lestari Orangutan Volunteer Project - as he was all those years ago!


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