Our ‘Amazing Animal of the Month’ for April 2015 is Friday, a male orangutan, who was evacuated from farmlands on the 3rd April by a rescue team in Sumatra, and released back into the Leuser forests at dawn the next morning.
The rescue team had received a call from the government authorities after a local community in Aceh had reported an orangutan trapped in their farmlands. When the team arrived on the scene, they found him in a tiny patch of forest surrounded on all sides by oil palms – plantations spanning the size of 3,000 football fields.
As it was Good Friday, the orangutan soon became known as Friday by the team. Sedated with a tranquiliser dart, Friday fell 15 metres into the net below.
Friday had a bullet in his chest which was removed on the scene. He was also very underweight, and it is likely that Friday would have starved, or been shot again, if he had not been rescued.
Panut Hadisiwoyo, Director of the Orangutan Information Centre, Sumatran Orangutan Society’s partner organisation in Sumatra, said, “Over the last 3 years Orangutan Information Centre has rescued 64 orangutans stranded just like this one. Adults, juveniles, mothers with babies – they end up in plantations looking for the forest that used to be here, for the fruits they need to survive. Friday’s rescue brought the count for this year to 11 orangutans already. That’s 11 in just 3 months so it’s a real concern”.
At dawn the next morning, Friday was released into the Leuser Ecosystem.
As soon as the door of the crate was lifted, he scaled the nearest tree and within seconds was looking down at the rescue team from the forest canopy, shaking branches and vocalising.
A happy ending for Friday, but only if we can keep the forests safe..
Helen Buckland, Director of Sumatran Orangutan Society said, “These rescues are vital – with so few Sumatran orangutans left in the wild, every life is precious. However, they do not solve the larger problem that is driving human-wildlife conflict. To protect orangutans in the long term, we need to ensure that their habitat is safe.
“The Leuser Ecosystem, the last stronghold for Sumatran orangutans, is under extreme threat due to a proposed new spatial plan for the province of Aceh, which would see huge swathes of forest handed over for the development of plantations and roads. We are facing a true conservation crisis, and SOS is working with partners in Sumatra to fight for the plans to be cancelled and for the Leuser forests to be protected.”
For more information and to support Sumatran Orangutan Society please visit their website: www.orangutans-sos.org