A Mother Orangutan & Her Baby Are Rescued & Relocated After Fire Destroyed Their Forest Home In West Borneo

Photos from International Animal Rescue

A team from the Wildlife Rescue Unit (WRU) of the Centre for the Conservation of Natural Resources (BKSDA Kalbar) and International Animal Rescue (IAR) Indonesia has rescued and relocated a mother and baby orangutan after fire destroyed their forest home in West Borneo.

The adult, believed to be more than 10 years old and her two-month-old baby, are the first orangutans to be rescued in the Ketapang District this year.

Sadly, data gathered by the Orangutan Protection Unit (OPU) from International Animal Rescue (IAR) Indonesia has shown that the number of human-orangutan conflicts in the area has been on the rise since last summer, due to habitat loss through forest fires.

“A great deal of conservation work has been carried out in recent years, both by the government and its partners. However, the challenges and problems are increasing and in response further action needs to be taken,” Sadtata Noor Adirahmanta, Head of the BKSDA West Kalimantan, said in a statement. The roots of the problem stem from conflict arising from the fact that not enough attention has been paid to the conservation of wild plants and animals.”

Reports of the existence of the mother and baby orangutan, who have been named Qia and Mama Qia, were sent to IAR’s Orangutan Protection Unit (OPU) on January 4th. The OPU attempted to drive the orangutans out of the gardens and back into the forest which is the first stage in IAR’s conflict mitigation strategy. However, on January 8th, the OPU patrol team encountered the orangutans in the same location.

After conducting a site survey, the team discovered that the forests in the area had been fragmented by fires and were no longer connected to any larger forest. As a result, IAR’s rescue team and members of the BKSDA decided to carry out a rescue operation and move the orangutans to a safer and more suitable location.

After conducting a series of medical tests, IAR’s vet confirmed that both orangutans were in good health,” said Argitoe Ranting, Field Manager of IAR Indonesia. “The two orangutans were in good condition and did not need any further treatment, so we agreed with BKSDA Kalbar to translocate them directly into the forests of Sentap Kancangwhich which is only about 5km away.”

The forest covers an area of more than 40,000 hectares, and was chosen not only because of its size, but also because it has a plentiful supply of food and the density of the existing orangutan population is quite low. The forest itself is not accessible to vehicles and so a team that included members of the BKSDA’s WRU carried the transport crate to the release site.

Although the rescue and release operation was carried out successfully, translocation is not a solution that addresses the root of the problem, which is the damage being done to the forest.

Threats to the survival of orangutan populations have increased greatly since fire hit most major regions of Ketapang. The burning forests left many orangutans without food and shelter, causing them to stray into villages and gardens and increasing the number of encounters and conflicts with humans.

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