International Animal Rescue Saves & Rehabilitates Partially-Blind Orangutan Before Releasing It Into The Rainforest In Borneo

Photos from: International Animal Rescue

A wild orangutan that was shot and blinded in one eye has been successfully returned to his natural habitat in the Bornean rainforest.

As previously reported by WAN, 20-year-old Junai was rescued by The West Kalimantan Conservation Agency (BKSDA) and International Animal Rescue (IAR) Indonesia in the village of Tanjungpura, Muara Pawan, in Ketapang District on September 28th.

At the time of his rescue, Junai’s condition gave serious cause for concern. He was very thin and blind in his left eye. The medical team from IAR who examined him found two bullets lodged in his skull, directly behind his eyeball. IAR’s veterinary team decided not to remove the bullets behind his eye because the operation was extremely risky.

After a month of treatment and recovery at IAR’s orangutan rehabilitation centre in Ketapang, Junai was released on November 11th back into the wild.

The release operation took approximately 12 hours, using a vehicle and then traveling on foot to the release site. This was the first orangutan release in the area of Mount Tarak since 2017. A total of 15 orangutans have been released in the region since 2014.

As post-release monitoring is an integral part of IAR’s orangutan release program, IAR mobilized a team to track and observe Junai.

Although Junai is partially blind, IAR’s release team is convinced that his impaired vision is not going to affect his ability to survive and thrive. Orangutans are known to be extremely intelligent and adaptable.

In 2016, the organization also released an orangutan on Mount Tarak, whose leg had been paralyzed by pellets from an airgun. The orangutan was able to survive despite his sever injuries.

“Junai is one of many victims of the forest and land fires. It is not uncommon for orangutans who lose their habitat to be found in the vicinity of plantations or villages, where sometimes there are irresponsible people who just want to hurt orangutans by shooting bullets in their eyes. If the bullets had hit both eyes, this orangutan would be disabled forever and it would be impossible for him to continue his life in the wild,” Karmele L. Sanchez, Programme Director of IAR Indonesia, said in an email sent to WAN. “We are confident that the majority of people in Ketapang, and the whole of Borneo, would condemn what has been done to this orangutan.”

The orangutan is a rare and precious species in Indonesia threatened with extinction due to the destruction of its rainforest habitat, including deforestation as a result of the exploitive palm oil industry.

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