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After being dragged from an open rice field and forced to entertain a whole village, Ael the Orangutan has been rescued from her traumatic experience in the Tempurkan village of Western Borneo.

Ael’s ordeal began while she was looking for food.  The growing palm oil industry has brought these magnificent mammals closer and closer to humans.  Stumbling upon an open rice field, she soon found herself captured by local villagers.

As reported by the Daily Mail, she was dragged by six people from the field to the village, where she was then put on display.  As if she was a creature from another world, her ankle was chained to a cable to prevent any escape back into the rainforest.

She became a circus attraction as villagers left their homes to view her as the afternoon entertainment.  A pole was even erected for her to climb up and amuse the crowd.  She was tormented by villagers, teasing her for their own enjoyment.

Finally, a villager  had enough of the abuse and contacted Argitoe Ranting, an employee of International Animal Rescue (IAR). Ranting and her team moved in swiftly to rescue the orangutan, who they named Ael.  After sedating her, Ael was moved to a rescue center where she remains until the team can find a safe area of forest where she can be released in.

Orangutans of Indonesia have been dwindling in population ever since the expansion of the palm oil industry. Both the Borneo and Sumatran Orangutan are endangered species. According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), palm oil plantations have destroyed the orangutan’s natural habitat. The plantations have created forest fragmentation which has drastically reduced the area in which orangutans can live while also exposing them to more poachers.  To clear land, many plantations set forest fires, which the WWF claims has destroyed habitat and even burned a number of orangutans to death.

What Ael’s story exposes is the need for Animal rights education and the protection of endangered species in rural areas. This is especially true in Sumatra and Borneo where orangutan populations have dropped from an estimated 315,000 to 60,000 in just 100 years.  Luckily, Ael was saved by the IAR but hopefully her torture was not in vain.  Let’s hope that some of the villagers have realized that their use of Ael as entertainment was shameful and will now go on to protect other orangutans.

Image Source: The Daily Mail