This is the touching moment a baby orangutan separated from its mother was rescued by villagers in one of the remotest places on Earth.
The frightened baby ape is seen holding on tightly to conservationists who comfort him after stumbling upon a tiny village in Indonesia.
Named “Aben” by his rescuers, the orangutan—less than a year old—looks around with large beady eyes as he is kept warm and tested for contagious diseases.
According to the welfare group International Animal Rescue (IAR), Aben was found in Limpang, a village in Jelai Hulu District, in early December 2019.
With Aben scared, alone, suffering from a fever, and hungry, authorities reported the case to IAR after he was saved by a West Kalimantan villager known as Idarno.
Aben was given rice and fruit by the time IAR’s Orangutan Protection Unit (OPU) arrived and gave him milk formula and a blanket.
Vets confirmed that Aben was still suffering from a high temperature and subsequently shipped him off to quarantine in Sungai Awan.
For eight weeks since his rescue, the baby ape would be made to undergo further tests to ensure he was not carrying diseases that could endanger other orangutans.
Karmele Sanchez, Programme Director of IAR Indonesia, thanked the villager for taking “appropriate action by reporting this baby orangutan to the authorities.”
She added: “We are also pleased to see an increase in awareness and understanding among the public about orangutans, even in areas far from the city.”
IAR was assisted in its rescue operation by the local Centre for the Conservation of Natural Resources (BKSDA Kalbar).
Sadtata Noor Adirahmanta, Head of West Kalimantan BKSDA, also paid tribute to “local residents for reporting the discovery of protected wildlife.”
He added: “Local communities have a pivotal role to play in conservation efforts if they are to prove successful.”
Orangutans are an endangered species protected by the Indonesian government, meaning it is illegal for locals to keep the apes as pets or hunt them.
However, more than 70 percent of orangutans living on the Indonesian island of Borneo live outside protected areas, according to IAR.
This means that apes like Aben are often discovered by local communities.
Sanchez of IAR said: “In Ketapang the number of pet orangutans rescued by the BKSDA and IAR in 2019 is far lower than in previous years.
“We have been working with village and community leaders, as well as key religious and cultural figures, the police and local government representatives to make people understand that the orangutan is a precious asset that needs to be preserved.”
She further added: “Ketapang is a great example of how our socialization and education on this issue is proving successful.”
Orangutans are among the most intelligent primates, using tools and constructing elaborate sleeping nests from branches and foliage.
They have been studied extensively for their learning abilities, with some studies suggesting there could be distinctive cultures within populations.
Since the early 2000s, the great ape has faced extinction in the hands of mankind with only three different species existing, though only Bornean and Sumatran orangutans are now found on Earth.
Palm oil cultivation has left their rainforest homes decimated, while orangutans are illegally petted, and poached for bushmeat, medicine, and crop protection.
In the past, it had been estimated that the orangutan population numbered more than 230,000 worldwide, but now there may be fewer than half this number.
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