Balikpapan. Authorities in the East Kalimantan town of Balikpapan have rescued a 2-year-old juvenile orangutan that was discovered by an area resident on Wednesday.
The ape will be cared for by the Balikpapan office of the Natural Resource Conservation Office (BKSDA), before being released into the wild.
Officials are hinting that the animal may have been bred in captivity.
“She appears to be very tame,” BKSDA forest ranger Indiansyah said on Thursday. “Normally they are aggressive and protective when taken out of their habitats.”
Residents in Batu Ampar subdistrict in Balikpapan said the orangutan entered their yards to forage for food. Authorities are investigating how this ape made its way into a densely populated built-up area, given that the nearest orangutan habitat, the Wain River Reserve (HLSW), is located 15 kilometers away.
“We’re still trying to learn if this orangutan came from the reserve,” he said.
He admitted that the reserve was established as an orangutan sanctuary in the 1990s, but the state of the forest had deteriorated to the extent that it is no longer a suitable habitat for the apes.
So far, an estimated 10 to 15 apes have been released into HLSW, but their condition and overall ape population in the reserve remain unknown. Sightings of orangutans in the area are rare.
Indiansyah said authorities are now working to relocate any remaining orangutans to more pristine habitats, such as Kutai National Park in East Kutai district.
Stanislav Lhota, a researcher from the University of South Bohemia in the Czech Republic, said orangutans encroaching into human settlements indicates that there may be a surviving population of the apes in HLSW.