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Orangutans in danger: FOUR PAWS is helping in Borneo



© BOSF | FOUR PAWS

The hot and humid rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra – home to the orangutan – are rapidly shrinking. With no regard for flora and fauna, humans are clearing the forest to make way for large plantations and mines. The demand for commodities, particularly palm oil and coal, is driving the orangutans from their habitats and making them homeless in their own country. It is difficult to estimate how many orangutans are left in Borneo, but the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists them as endangered.

 

Our project leader, 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 50 to 80km 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.”



© BOSF | FOUR PAWS

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 defenceless and terrified youngsters being torn away from their murdered mother, to be locked in a tiny cage, then illegally sold as pets.



© BOSF | FOUR PAWS

FOUR PAWS is helping orangutan orphans

For years, FOUR PAWS has been fighting alongside BOSF against the extermination of these red-brown great apes. At the Samboja Lestari rescue station, traumatised 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, it has to learn. The committed staff of FOUR PAWS are doing their part to help.


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