Baby Orangutan Held as a Pet Fights for Life in West Kalimantan
Fidelis E. Satriastanti
Wildlife conservationists in West Kalimantan confirmed on Wednesday that they were caring for a seriously ill baby orangutan that had been kept as an illegal pet.
Adi Irawan, a veterinarian and manager of International Animal Rescue’s orangutan rehabilitation center, said the owner brought the endangered animal to the Natural Resources Conservation Center (BKSDA) in Singkawang in fear that it was on the verge of death.
The orangutan, named Anyin by her carers, was reportedly kidnapped by hunters who killed its mother and then sold it for Rp 1.15 million ($120).
“After being kept as a pet for more than 18 months, the owner only decided to hand over Anyin to BKSDA officers because the baby was very sick and he knew she could die,” Adi said in statement.
The orangutan came from Sambas district, said Karmele Llano Sanchez, executive director of the IAR Indonesia Foundation.
“This area is home to the most endangered subspecies of the Bornean orangutan, Pongo pygmaeus,” she said.
This subspecies was included on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of the 25 most endangered primates in the world, with a small wild population in the north part of West Kalimantan and in Sarawak, Malaysia.
“We don’t know yet if this orangutan will survive or not,” Sanchez said. “Anyin may have been lucky enough to get to us in time, although her condition is still very critical and she’s fighting for her life.”
She added that the IAR vets suspected Anyin had typhoid fever, a human disease that can be deadly for orangutans.
It remained unclear whether the owner would face criminal charges.
Trade in or possession of endangered species is punishable by up to five years in prison and Rp 100 million in fines under the 1990 Natural Resources Conservation Law.