Baby Orangutan Rescued After Hunters Killed His Mother, Kept Him as a Pet

The capture and trade of exotic animals is an issue conservationists have been facing for decades. Though new legislation is being put into place frequently, the culture around how humans treat animals and their natural environments still needs to change drastically. Often times, conservationists rely on locals to report any illegal animal captivity because it is an incredibly difficult issue to monitor. Orangutans are the most traded primate in the world, and this trading is one of the biggest threats to the orangutan’s survival. Thankfully, international conservation groups are constantly hard at work, fighting against this abusive trade.

In early 2021, the International Animal Rescue (IAR) Indonesia received reports from locals that a baby orangutan was being held illegally as a pet by a farmer in the village Batu Lapis, Hulu Sangai District, Ketapang Regency. Members from the IAR’s education team, who happened to be in Batu Lapis sharing information about inhumane treatment of wild animals, were able to verify the reports. “It is very encouraging that local villagers knew to report this baby’s existence so that he could be rescued and given a second chance to live wild and free,” said IAR’s CEO, Alan Knight.

Photo: Facebook/International Animal Rescue

By the time IAR’s rescue team arrived in the village, the baby orangutan had been transferred to another group of farmers. However, once confronted by the rescue team, the farmers handed over the baby without much difficulty. The rescuers worked closely with the Wildlife Rescue Unit (WRU) of the Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) and promptly named their new rescue Bomban.

Bomban is estimated to be about one year old, and shows signs of ill treatment. He was held in captivity for about three months, in a small wooden cage, where he was fed an unbalanced diet of rice, biscuits, cucumbers, water, and sweet condensed milk. The rescue team promptly transported Bomban to the IAR’s Orangutan Rescue and Conservation Center in the village of Sungai Awan, Ketapang District.

Photo: Facebook/International Animal Rescue

The baby orangutan underwent an initial medical examination and an X-ray, which revealed signs of a heartbreaking past. Bomban had air rifle pellets lodged in his right thigh, which strengthened the IAR’s theory that Bomban’s mother had been killed by hunters, with the intent of stealing her baby. “Keeping orangutans as pets starts with hunting,” explained Director of Programs at IAR, Karmele K. Sanchez. “Usually the mother orangutan is killed so that her baby can be taken. Our education team was working in the area where Bomban was being kept and they are clearly getting through to rural communities that it is illegal to keep an orangutan as a pet.”

Photo: Facebook/International Animal Rescue

After his initial examination, Bomban will be kept in quarantine for eight weeks to ensure he is not carrying any diseases that can be transmitted to the humans working at the conservation, or the other orangutans. “Once out of quarantine,” continued Knight, “he will begin a long period of rehabilitation to help him learn skills his mother would have taught him during his formative years.” After his quarantine, Bomban will join the 100 other orangutans at the conservation center and begin his journey towards rehabilitation and eventual release.

If you want to join the International Animal Rescue in their fight against exotic animals being kept as pets, consider signing this petition.

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