You may remember the story we shared a couple months ago about an orangutan, Amy, who was rescued by the International Animal Rescue (IAR) team from a small wooden crate. Amy was kept in chains for about seven years, unable to even straighten her legs, before being rushed to IAR’s rescue center for urgent medical treatment. Sadly, Amy’s case is not an isolated one. Just recently, IAR and officials from the forestry department (BKSDA) of West Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo) rescued yet another orangutan, Kotap, who had been kept in a small, dark and barren crate for two lonely years.
The four-year-old male orangutan was held captive by a man named Baco who claims he was given the orangutan by people he met in the village of Ketapang. According to IAR, Baco said he spotted the small baby orangutan in a cardboard box and agreed to take him home.
Becoming concerned Kotap would disturb the neighbors, Baco built a cage for him in front of his house. Instead of calling the proper authorities, his caretaker made this Kotap’s home for two long years of his life.
Kotap was fed a human diet, which made him seriously ill. Baco claims that the orangutan’s favorite meal was uncooked instant noodles and a sugary drink to wash it down.
While officials from the BKSDA has visited Baco previously, urging him to surrender Kotap, they were unsuccessful – but they didn’t give up. Once BKSDA officials took the time to explain the desperate situation of orangutans in Borneo, Baco was finally convinced to do what’s best for the animal, as well as comply with the law.
When the door to his small box was opened and the vet, Umi, extended her hand, at first Kotap was frightened and huddled back in his enclosure. Understandably, after years in darkness, Kotap was terrified of the sights and sounds of the outside world.
“Kotap was very stressed by all the strangers who gathered to see him when he was taken out of the box. He became nervous and aggressive which is not surprising. So during the long journey back to the centre we kept people away from him so that he remained as quiet and calm as possible,” said Umi.
Kotap was rushed to IAR’s rescue center where he is receiving urgent medical treatment. Eventually, he will join IAR’s other rescued orangutans and get the chance to return where he belongs: the wild.
“At four years old, he should still be with his mother, learning from her how to climb and move through the forest, what foods to eat and what to avoid, and how to build a nest in the trees to sleep in each night,” said Alan Knight, IAR’s Chief Executive. We are so thankful Kotap has now been freed and will hopefully recover from the tragic ordeal.
As IAR notes, if people insist on breaking the law, capturing orangutans and keeping or selling them as pets, the species will soon become extinct.
Orangutans are the common victims of deforestation, particularly in Indonesia. They are losing the towering trees they call home due to the palm oil industry, which is expanding endlessly onto their territory. It’s estimated that orangutans have lost around 90 percent of their original range, large due to slash and burn deforestation. This method of clearing trees is popular in the palm oil industry and around 300 football fields of forest are leveled every hour to make more room for plantations. Sadly, this leaves orangutans with little choice but to travel into human villages in search of food. Once in the presence of opportunistic humans, they are frequently captured and sold – either to become bush meat or pets. Because of this, the orangutan population is in grave danger of extinction and if nothing is done to protect these animals, we stand to lose them forever.
Luckily, we can all play a role in helping orangutans. To learn more about palm oil and how to avoid it, click here. To make a donation to IAR and help them continue their life-saving work, click here.
Image source: International Animal Rescue/Facebook