There are few species that are as endangered by our consumption habits as the orangutan. These arboreal primates reside in the tropical rainforests of Malaysia and Indonesia but are quickly losing their native habitat due to palm oil plantations.
Deforestation related to producing palm oil, a vegetable oil that’s used in around 50 percent of consumer goods, is the leading cause of forest loss across the Indonesian islands of Borneo and Sumatra. As these critical rainforests are destroyed and replaced with palm plantations, the orangutan species is left with nowhere to go.
Orangutans have no other choice but to make their nests in palm oil plantations where they are regarded as “pests” to farmers. Most orangutans are killed on site by palm workers and the ones who survive are sold into the exotic pet trade.
In the past 20 years, over 50,000 orangutans have died as a result of the palm oil industry. Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be any indication that this trend will slow.
Thankfully, there are many organizations working in Borneo and Sumatra to rescue displaced or injured orangutans. Orangutan Foundation International (OFI) works to rescue orangutans and rehabilitate them so that they can be released back into a protected portion of the wild.
Kino is one of the orangutans that Orangutan Foundation International has taken in for care. When this little orangutan came to the Orangutan Care Center and Quarantine, he was extremely traumatized as he had just witnessed the brutal death of his mother. The poor baby was covered with bullet casings and had lost all of his hair. He was understandably nervous and wary of the humans who brought him to the center.
One of Kino’s caretakers recounts, “Kino had a gentleness about him that was immediately captivating. I had a feeling (and a hope) that we would become friends but Kino remained fairly wary of people. Whenever a caregiver would reach for his hand to lead him to the OFI nursery playground, Kino would flee in fear.”
Over time, Kino came around to his human caretakers and acclimated to his new home. After this initial process, Kino excelled at making friends. He even managed to win over the older orangutans at the center who can play a little bit rough.
“They watched over him like protective babysitters,” Kino’s caretaker explains, “The moment I observed Kino climb a tall tree with an older orangutan helping him as he climbed, I knew Kino was safe!”
Kino’s confidence has grown immensely since he arrived at the center and his progress indicates that he is on the path to a successful release.
“Despite his young age, Kino showed incredible courage as he overcame his fear and quickly adapted to his new environment. His progress made a strong impression on me as an example of the resilient spirit of orangutans.”
Way to go Kino!
To learn more about Orangutan Foundation International, check out their website, here.