International Animal Rescue (IAR), based in Uckfield, East Sussex, rescues orangutans, most of which have been kept captive as pets and undergo years of rehabilitation so that they can be released back into the wild. IAR envisions a world where humans and animals coexist in sustainable ecosystems.

Since 2009, the non-profit organisation has rescued and released more than 250 orangutans into the protected forest. They are then monitored for up to two years to make sure they are coping well, finding food and building a nest to sleep in each night.

These critically endangered primates are suffering as a result of habitat loss, mainly for palm oil production and other industrial-scale agriculture, as well as through hunting.

Thanks to the successful orangutan rehabilitation programme led by the IAR, four of the released orangutans gave birth to babies in the wild in the area of Bukit Baka Bukit Raya National Park, Borneo Island, Indonesia. A huge win for orangutan conservation!

Karmele L Sanchez, Director of the IAR Indonesia Programme, said:

“We believe that the birth of these babies is not the happy ending to the reintroduction programme. It is the beginning. The beginning of the formation of generations of new wild orangutans in the area of Bukit Baka Bukit Raya National Park. We’re delighted not only to be giving a second chance to orangutans that have been kept as pets, but also to be giving them the opportunity to become mothers. Mothers and infants can live freely in their natural habitat and thus also support and protect the ecology of the region.”

The female orangutan, Susi, is one success story as a result of the programme. At the end of March 2020, Susi gave birth to a female baby named Sinar. Based on the observations of veterinarians in the field, Sinar looks healthy and is feeding well from her mother.  Susi is also proving to be a very affectionate and attentive mother.

Susi had been chained up and kept as a pet in Pontianak but was rescued by the BKSDA (Natural Resources Conservation Centre) and IAR Indonesia on July 30, 2011. When she was rescued, she was in a poor state. The chain which her owner had fastened around her neck had caused an open, infected wound that was festering and foul-smelling.  Even after it had been removed, there was still rubber embedded in the skin of her neck.  

Susi and Sinar
Susi and Sinar

Karmele stated, “I will never forget when we had to remove the chains from Susi’s neck. We were so very sad to see the state she was in.  Now, it is very encouraging to see orangutans who used to live in confinement and suffering being able to live freely and even breeding in their natural habitat.  During her treatment and rehabilitation, Susi’s condition improved, not only physically but also mentally.  Susi has also proved that she can adapt and become a true wild orangutan in her new home on Gunung Tarak.”

After undergoing five years of rehabilitation at our Orangutan Conservation Centre in Ketapang, Susi was released into the protected forest of Gunung Tarak on May 20, 2016, which is directly adjacent to the National Park.

Since 1989, International Animal Rescue have been dedicated to ending animal suffering, whilst protecting the environment for people and the planet. They not only save animals from suffering but also rehabilitate and release them back into the wild and work to protect their precious natural habitats. 

Find out more about International Animal Rescue here.

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About Author

Uzma Gulbahar holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University College of London. She is particularly interested in exploring untold stories surrounding marginalised groups, identity and culture.

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