The world’s orangutan population is hanging by a thread, sadly, mostly because of human actions. Although this primate species shares nearly 97 percent of the same DNA as humans, their well-being is often jeopardized in the pursuit of palm oil. This oil is is used in nearly 50 percent of all consumer goods, largely because it is cheap and it an extremely versatile. Unfortunately for the orangutan, palm oil grows best in their native habitat, the ancient rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra. Over the course of the past two decades, over 90 percent of the orangutans habitat has been lost to deforestation associated with palm oil.

Adding to the orangutan’s struggles are the rampant forest fires that have raged through Indonesia for the past five months. Pushed out of their already dwindling habitat to escape the fires, orangutans are left with nowhere to go and little hope for survival. Thankfully, International Animal Rescue (IAR) has been working around the clock to rescue, rehabilitate, and release orangutans, ensuring their safety.

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Mama Novia and her tiny baby Noval are two of IAR’s most recent rescues who were saved from the grips of the wildfires just in time.

Like human children, baby orangutans are dependent on their mothers for the first few years of life. 

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With orangutan populations hovering around 30,000 left in the wild, many fear that this species will go extinct within our lifetimes.

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Once this mother and baby are given the all clear from IAR vets, they will be transferred to a safe section of forest and set free. 

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Although IAR is determined to save as many orangutans as they can – they have already rescued over 20 in the past few months – the reality of this bleak situation is not lost on them. Karmele Llano Sanchez, Program Director for IAR Indonesia explains, “There are no words to express how we feel about this. All our efforts to protect orangutans and their habitat are in vain when fires destroy everything in an instant.”

If we don’t take action to stop the devastation of Indonesia’s rainforests then we can never expect to give the orangutan a fighting chance at survival. We can all help in our daily actions by cutting ties with palm oil, check out this post to learn how. To help the IAR team and their ground efforts to rescue orangutans, check out their website.

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All image source: IAR/Facebook