Conservation Perspective: A Refuge for Orangutans, and a Quandary for Environmentalists

Orangutans that had lived at a rescue shelter were recently set free on Salat Island in Indonesia. Credit Ulet Ifansasti for The New York Times

by Jon Emont for the New York Times

SALAT ISLAND, Indonesia — In the lush rain forests of central Borneo, a group of young orangutans, endangered refugees from human development, swung from branch to branch.

One, named Lykke, who had been found stranded on a palm oil plantation when she was just a month old, snagged a pineapple left by her handlers and scampered up a tree, where she began tearing into the ripe fruit.

She was one of 13 adolescent orangutans recently transported to an unspoiled, 5,200-acre tract of Salat Island, acquired last year by the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation, a nonprofit founded in 1991. When they reached the sanctuary, the auburn-maned apes clambered out of the cages they had arrived in and climbed up to freedom.

The release of the orangutans this month was the second installment in what may ultimately be the relocation of hundreds of orangutans currently housed in cages in a nearby rescue shelter.

This excerpt from an article appeared in and is courtesy of the New York Times and can be viewed in its entirety here.

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