Breaking! International Animal Rescue Saves 2 Stranded Orangutans From Devastating Fires In Borneo; Tragically, Many Others Remain At Risk

Two orangutans found stranded in the forest while fires were raging through West Borneo on September 16th, were saved this week during a rescue operation carried out by International Animal Rescue (IAR) in collaboration with the West Kalimantan Conservation Agency (BKSDA).

The male and female orangutans, both estimated to be 20 years old, have since been named Bara and Arang respectively.

IAR’s team, which discovered the organutans while out on fire patrol, found the scared animals clinging to the last trees standing in the middle of a burnt area of rainforest.

Realizing the devastated conditions of the forest surrounding the orangutans, the decision was made to evacuate them immediately to the safety of IAR’s orangutan conservation centre.

The rescue team worked quickly, and in less than one hour, both orangutans were sedated and safely moved into transport crates. Initial medical assessments indicated that both orangutans were dehydrated, and one, tragically, had a bullet lodged in its face.

The rescue serves as a stark reminder of the significant and lasting threat that this environmental disaster poses to Borneo’s biodiversity.

“Based on our experience of the devastating consequences of forest fires in 2015, it is likely that the effects of these fires will be felt long after they have been extinguished,” Tantyo Bangun, Chairman of IAR Indonesia, said in a statement emailed to WAN, further warning that this rescue was just the beginning. “Many orangutans will be left stranded after their forest homes burn to the ground, triggering a wave of urgent orangutan rescues.”

In 2015, together with the Ministry of Environment (LHK Ministry), IAR rescued more than 40 orangutans.

“The LHK Ministry and orangutan rescue centres across Indonesia will soon become overwhelmed and recovery from these fires will be lengthy, making orangutans increasingly vulnerable, pushing the species closer to extinction,” continued Bangun.

According to Karmele Llano Sanchez, Director of IAR Indonesia, their team has been working around the clock for nearly two months to secure a rehabilitation site away from the fires. Sadly, there is much more work to be done to save all of the orangutans that are threatened by the brutal blaze.

“Thankfully, these two orangutans are safe now but I fear for the many more in danger of death or starvation from the current fires,” stated Alan Knight OBE, IAR CEO who noted that “only an effort on a much greater scale will dispel the huge danger these fires present to the apes’ survival.”

Rescued orangutans Bara and Arang are currently undergoing medical observation and treatment at IAR’s orangutan rehabilitation centre. Because both orangutans are wild, they do not require lengthy rehabilitation and should be able to be returned to the freedom of the forest.

Once deemed healthy, both orangutans will be translocated into the safety of Gunung Palung National Park (TANAGUPA) which based on the results of extensive surveys, has plentiful food, space and biodiversity. The status as a National Park will also guarantee the safety and protection of the orangutans.

“In response to reports of orangutans affected by forest and land fires, the TANAGUPA centre has prepared several translocation sites, to allow these orangutans to thrive once more,” said M. Ari Wibawanto, Head of the National Park. “All actions in the context of translocation must be in accordance with the Standard Operating Procedure that we have prepared.”

This is why it is critical that anyone in the community with any information concerning orangutan conflicts caused by forest and land fires, should contact the TANAGUPA Balai Call Centre at: 082253034343, West Kalimantan BKSDA Call Centre at: 08117576767 or International Animal Rescue Indonesia Call Centre at: 08115777173.

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