The team of rescuers from the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program (SOCP) and the Orangutan Information Center (OIC) evacuate a severely injured male orangutan from a Salak plantation in Sugi Tonga village in the South Tapanuli district of North Sumatra on Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013. (Photo courtesy of the OIC)
by Nurdin Hasan for the Jakarta Globe
A grievously injured Sumatran orangutan was found on the brink of death on a salak plantation in the South Tapanuli district of North Sumatra, conservation workers said.
The Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program (SOCP) and the Orangutan Information Center (OIC) received reports on Monday from the North Sumatra Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) of an orangutan in distress. The organizations put together a joint team, which conducted the rescue on Tuesday, said OIC director Panut Hadisiswoyo.
“Based on the observations of BKSDA staff, the Forest Police Partners Society [MMP] and a team from the Sumatra Rainforest Institute, the orangutan suffered… serious injuries on his body and needed medical treatment,” Panut said in a statement on Friday.
MMP volunteers stood watch over the suffering orangutan while the rescue team drove north from Medan, which took 12 hours, he said.
“The MMP team said the orangutan was isolated in a field and severely injured,” he said, “as he was probably trapped in a snare or hit with a sharp item.”
The rescuers found the primate in a tree, six meters from the ground. They tranquilized him and caught him as he fell.
“An examination by a team of veterinarians found that the orangutan suffered wounds on his forehead and on the back of his head,” Panut said. “The wound was a cut, and there were maggots in it. He also suffered wounds on the right side of his back and on his mouth.”
Panut said the team predicted that the primate had been suffering for the past two weeks as his body weakened due to a lack of food.
The orangutan was brought to a SOCP facility near Medan for treatment.
“He was in a very critical condition and we can not predict if he will survive or not,” said Yenni Saraswati, a senior SOCP veterinarian.”
Shrinking habitats have increased contact between the forest-dwelling orangutan and villagers and is the primary cause of an upswing in human-on-animal violence in Indonesia, Panut said.
“Why would people try to kill an orangutan like this and not try to handle the conflict without hurting the orangutan?” Yenni asked. “It is better for them to call a relevant NGO or the local BKSDA chapter before taking any action.”
Only around 6,500 Sumatran Orangutans remain in the wild, Panut said. Orangutans are among humans’ closest cousins, surpassed only by chimpanzees, bonobos and gorillas in genetic similarity.
This article appeared in and is courtesy of the Jakarta Globe.