The team at the IAR orangutan project have had such an incredible January, it’s almost too good to be true! This inspirational project truly makes a difference to animal welfare in Borneo, and we can see that by the project’s major achievements in just January alone. After some much-needed TLC, it’s back ‘into the wild’ for not just orangutans, but some adorable slow lorises too!
This is Melky, who arrived at IAR all the way back in 2009 when he was just 2 years old, and he has spent 8 years learning some essential survival skills at the Orangutan Conservation Centre at IAR. The centre helps to develop wild skills and behaviours in the animals to prepare them for release back into their natural habitat. In the wild, baby orangutans learn all of these skills from their mothers, staying with them until they are around 7 years old, but sadly for these apes, they were rescued as orphans or from the wildlife trade, so IAR step in to help them learn!
First of all, Melky had to undergo training through both ‘baby school’ and ‘forest school’ in which he learned how to be an expert climber, and how to play with other orangutans. After this, Melky spent a period of time on a pre-release island before being let out into the forest. It is during this pre-release period that the team at IAR will closely monitor the orangutans, collecting information which helps to determine when they are finally ready to be released into completely wild conditions.
Just like humans, some orangutans are faster learners than others, and in this instance, Melky needed a little more time to ensure that his survival skills were up to scratch. However, he got there in the end and was able to be released in January! Melky's rehabilitation has taken longer than some, but we are confident he will love his new home where he can swing freely from treetop to treetop.
For as long as up to two years, Melky will be monitored by local villagers to see how he copes with life in the wild. This also provides insightful data to the project regarding how the orangutans adapt to life in the forest after lengthy and comprehensive rehabilitation.
The dedicated and hardworking team carried Melky a long way into a protected area of the forest where he was to be released. Orangutans are heavy, but that didn’t stop them! Check out Melky taking his first steps into his new life! Good luck, little fellow…
A short time after Melky was released into the protected forest of Gunung Tarak, five slow lorises who had previously been kept as pets were also released back into their natural habitat!
The lorises were rescued from the wildlife trade in awful conditions, similar to that pictured above.
Bulan, Lana, Honey, Jejes and John were taken on a 4-hour car journey, followed by a 4.5 hour walk to the release site. 12 local residents worked as porters to transport the animals, who were kept inside transportation cages until they were ready to venture into their new lives! Using locals for these tasks helps to raise awareness within the community on the importance of conservation and encourages them not to keep animals like orangutans and lorises as pets. The Indonesian government cannot physically raise this awareness, as well as carry out vital conservation initiatives such as this, so the IAR team truly are an integral part of wildlife conservation here.
Just like Melky, the adorable lorises will be monitored for some time to make sure they are thriving in their new home. As the animals are nocturnal, the monitoring team are sleeping through the day and taking the night shift to keep an eye on them. This shows the extent of the dedication of the team who work continuously and tirelessly to aid in animal welfare. It’s clear to see their passion for wildlife conservation is firmly lodged within the hearts of every single member of staff of this inspirational project.
Check out as the lorises explore their new home!
This is a large male orangutan who the IAR team named Lulup. There had been many reports of wild orangutans who had been foraging in the community gardens of local villages. Orangutans often venture onto communal land in search of food, as mass deforestation has extensively fragmented their forest homes and food sources.
The team began monitoring the area back in September and managed to drive several orangutans back into the forest where they can find food and shelter. However, Lulup managed to evade the team for some time. Eventually he was located, and the team noticed he had a nasty bullet wound in his cheek pad which needed urgent medical attention.Lulup was successfully sedated and checked over – where it was revealed he was more than 25 years old, and other than his wound, he was generally in good health.
The team managed to sew the gash to Lulup’s cheek pad and translocate him back into a protected area of the forest, where he will be free to go on about his daily orangutan activities without the aggravation of such an injury.
The team at IAR believe that the wound was caused by an airgun, which is sadly, not a surprising event to have occurred. Bullets, and bullet wounds are something that the team come across everyday with rescued orangutans, but that's exactly why this world-renowned charity and the work it carries out is so vital for wildlife conservation.
Tragically, just two weeks after Lulup’s rescue, the team received reports from a local member of the community, of the lifeless body of a decapitated and mutilated wild orangutan which had been left floating in a nearby river. 17 gunshot wounds were found during an autopsy which had caused the lungs, stomach and heart of the tortured orangutan to rupture.
Unfortunately, there is not the money or the manpower available to be able to monitor all wild orangutans in the area, as well as maintaining the running of the IAR centre. This is why volunteers are so crucial to this project – the more volunteers the staff have at the project site, the more people they can send out into the field to try and stop such atrocities from occurring.
It is unfathomable that anyone could cause such pain and trauma to a defenceless animal, but tragically these horror stories are a regular occurrence here.
Alan Knight OBE, Chief Executive of International Animal Rescue spoke on the matter: “It is heart-breaking to see these critically endangered great apes being subjected to persecution, mutilation and even murder when they lose their forest home and go in search of food. We always encourage rural communities to call on us or on the forestry department when they have a problem with a wild orangutan and fortunately for Lulup, that is what the villagers did. However, judging by the injury to his cheekpad, he had a lucky escape and our team arrived in the nick of time.”
It is a tragedy when an orangutan can be considered 'lucky' after being shot; when its survival is deemed a miracle, more than a given or a basic right. But you can make a difference. If you have been inspired to help out at the world-renowned IAR Orangutan Project, then please view the project now.
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