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Orangutans in danger

© BOSF | FOUR PAWS │Adzwari Ridzki

The last four decades have seen Borneo’s rainforest destroyed at twice the rate of any other habitat in the world. Orangutans are victims of the palm oil, tropical timber, and coal industries. Each year 2,000 to 3,000 orangutans are killed. On palm oil plantations they are often killed for money, as they are considered to be "crop thieves." The killing of these great animals leaves many vulnerable orangutan orphans exposed in the rainforest, and many end up being illegally sold by animal dealers as pets. Globally, orangutans comprise 60% of all illegally traded great apes.

Dr. Signe Preuschoft, has lived in East Kalimantan in the Indonesian part of Borneo since 2009, not far from what she calls the "extinction front." She says, “When I arrived here, the extinction front was about 31 to 50 miles to the north of Samboja. At that time our team was asked to help move orangutans that had lost their habitat; but there were no safe areas of forest where they could be taken. We still see some of these orangutans along the main road when we drive from Samboja to the re-release area. Most are bound to be dead by now. We managed to save a few. Now the extinction front has moved even further north, about level with Muara Wahau, the town where we get supplies for our re-release camps.”

Dr. Signe Preuschoft standing in a destroyed forest.
© BOSF | FOUR PAWS │Matthias Schickhofer

Orangutans with a price on their heads

Although both the killing and the private keeping of orangutans is banned in Indonesia, these great apes still end up being illegally killed – sometimes even for bounty. In 2012, together with the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF), we managed to save a mother and her five-year-old daughter literally at the last minute. Their part of the forest had already been felled, and they had no food or shelter. Finally, a group of harvesters brought the exhausted orangutans to the ground. A situation like that usually ends up with the mother being killed, and the defenseless and terrified youngsters being torn away from their murdered mother, to be locked in a tiny cage, then illegally sold as pets. Thankfully for this mother and daughter, they were spared from that horrible fate.

© BOSF | FOUR PAWS │Adzwari Ridzki

FOUR PAWS is helping orangutan orphans

For years, FOUR PAWS has been fighting alongside BOSF against the extermination of these beautiful great apes. At the Samboja Lestari Rescue Station, traumatized orangutan orphans find a new home; a temporary arrangement, because once they are independent enough, they should be re-released into the wild. First, however, they have to go to "school." Unlike many other mammals, an orangutan does not come into the world fully developed. Like a human, they have to learn. The committed staff of FOUR PAWS is doing their part to help.