Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Question: What does it take to rescue one orangutan? Answer: A lot of committment and resources, but it's always worth every drop of sweat.

The following sequence of photographs relate to the rescue of one baby orangutan outside of a town called Ketapang in south-west Kalimantan (Borneo) during the first week of July 2008. We chose from maybe 300 photos and can only hope we have given you a feel for what it is like to be involved in such rescues.

Very briefly. Following tip offs from our contact in that region Hardi Baktiantoro of COP and I made our second visit to this area in six months.
My third visit to Borneo in nine months.

The first orangutan we went to rescue had already been sold to an unknown buyer.

The next trip was successful in locating both the orangutan and its 'owner'.
It was some two hours by road and then a two mile hike to the village. I was probably the first white person they had ever seen. Everyone was very friendly and the owner invited us into his home to meet his family and the orangutan.

After a lot of social chat we asked if he would give us the baby to take care of. He was polite, but unwilling to part with a family pet he and his son were so keen on. In fairness to him, he would have had no idea of the concept of the rescue centre we had described or the need for the baby to receive urgent medical care and proper food. He may have thought we just wanted to take and sell it - we need to bear in mind these are poor and uneducated people.

We went back to town and reported the orangutan to the local Forestry Department, with whom we had met and introduced ourselves the day before. They responded positively and the following day sent a Forestry Officer and a policeman with Hardi to confiscate the baby orangutan, which they did with no difficulty.

24 hours later we were on a plane with the baby (we named her "Kerrie" after the name of a really helpful person working with one of COPs sponsors) and on our way to the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOS) rescue centre in Central Kalimantan.

The above is the briefest possible summary of the events that happened, but there is a lot more I wish I could write about.

Some important things to take away from this experience:

- the Forestry Department were 100% supportive and deserve a lot of
credit for their action that day and subsequently with other cases I have yet to report on.

- this rescue and others to follow were made possible because a number
of conservation groups worked together and pooled resources. Namely, the rescue was led by Hardi and the Centre for Orangutan Protection,
supported by Orangutan Appeal UK, BOS, Nature Alert and locally by the Gunung Palung Conservation Programme.

- Hardi and his COP team have now rescued four orangutans in two months. We have many new cases to tackle and resolve.

Please look back at this Blog often as I am adding more news and photos to it every day and I guarantee you will find it all both interesting and in many ways - encouraging.