All around the world, various species of animals are living under the constant threat of extinction. Thanks to deforestation and other man-made problems, these animals are losing their homes and slowly but surely dying off.
When animal rescuers found an injured orangutan, they thought she was merely sick, but once they took X-rays the horrifying truth was revealed…
Gunung Leuser National Park
Our story begins at the Gunung Leuser National Park, which is part of the World Heritage Site high up in the mountains of Sumatra, Indonesia. The area is highly protected against hunters and poachers and plays a very critical role in the conservation of the wildlife that lives there.
Many Species of Wildlife
The Endangered Trio
Currently, Sumatra is facing a crisis with three different species in critical status. The Sumatran elephant, tiger, and rhinoceros. Due to their habitats being destroyed, as well as poaching, the species numbers are dwindling rapidly.
Only found in Indonesia, the Sumatran elephant is one of three recognized sub-species of the Asian elephant. Known for living in the jungles, rather than wide open plains, their numbers are dwindling due to poaching, which is a threat to the forest’s ecosystem.
Listed as critically endangers in 2008, the Sumatran tiger is rapidly disappearing. As of now, there are less than 500 individual tigers left. Conservationists hope through sanctuaries they may be able to preserve the tiger before it disappears forever.
Also known as the “hairy rhino,” the Sumatran rhinoceros is known for its two horns. It’s a rare subspecies that is under threat of extinction with just under 100 left due to poaching.
While not critically endangered, the Sumatran Orangutan is under threat due to its home being destroyed and hunters taking them out as trophies. It’s a sad situation as the species finds it harder to locate food and safe spaces to thrive.
Only Two Habitats
Currently, there are only two habitats left and the park is one of the two. It would be in March 2018 that park officials noticed Rose the orangutan wandering around a farm looking for food.
Starving and Underweight
Severely underweight and most likely starving, the park employees also noticed she was injured. Due to her illness, Rose didn’t mind that the close proximity of the people and the park knew time was of the essence if she was to be saved.
Contacting Rescue Team
The workers reached out to the Orangutan Information Center, where the staff immediately put together a rescue team to visit Rose and examine her condition. They knew with her health in question time was of the essence, but the rescue team also worried about her safety due to the frequency that local farmers attacked orangutans.
Farmers are at war with the local orangutan population thanks to deforestation driving them out of their homes. Food sources were also extremely limited, so the orangutans had begun raiding the farms for food. This has led farmers to shoot the trespassing creatures on sight.
Orchestrating Rose’s rescue was founding director of the Orangutan Information Center, Panut Hadisiswoyo. When his team arrived they found Rose hiding up in a tree. It was then they realized there was more to the poor orangutan’s situation than initially thought.
Based on what they could see, the team realized lack of food was the least of sweet Rose’s problems. It appeared she was also suffering from several injuries, as well as major damage to her fingers.
Malnourished and Weak
“We observed that the orangutan was malnourished, and indeed looked very weak,” Hadisiswoyo told The Dodo. “Our team was aware that her condition could be fixed in the field. So our vet recommended to bring her to quarantine for further intensive treatment.”
The first priority of the rescue team was to quarantine Rose so they could examine the extent of her injuries. Moving quickly, they used a dart gun to tranquilize Rose and then caught her in a safety net. They needed her sedated so they could accurately diagnose her injuries.
“This is always the critical moment in every rescue situation,” Hadisiswoyo told The Dodo. “I’m glad we managed the net very well, and that she felt right into the net.”
Unfortunately, they quickly realized that Rose was in much worse shape than they could have imagined.
A Cruel Twist
The team discovered that poor Rose had been shot with an air rifle. Realizing they needed to X-ray Rose to know the full extent of her injuries, the team transported her to Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme.
The X-Ray Reveals All
After performing a full-body X-ray it was discovered that Rose had five bullets embedded in her weak body. Thankfully, the bullets had managed to miss all of her vital organs. The team was thankful for finally having a piece of good news.
Too Much Tarter
However, Rose’s bullet wounds were far from her only problems. It was determined that her teeth had a severe build up of tarter, and she would need a teeth cleaning. The rescuers determined an unnatural diet most likely was the contributing factor.
No Natural Food
“Rose was not feeding on natural food from the forest. It seems like she had been feeding on human food for quite a long time,” one of the rescuers explained to The Dodo.
The next step would be to get Rose on a food regime that focused on nutrition and made up for what she was lacking.
Half the Normal Weight
While the team knew that Rose was underweight, they were shocked to discover she was only 37 pounds. They hoped with a proper diet they could nurse her back to a healthy weight and eventually release her back into the wild.
Although that sadly may not be possible.
Safe in the Sanctuary
One of the main concerns of the rescue team is that if Rose is released back into the wild she will simply go back to raiding farms for food. This would be a very dangerous situation so it was decided to keep Rose in a sanctuary. This way she would still be close to a natural environment while remaining protected.
Continued Destruction of Habitats
Unfortunately, the overall outlook for the Sumatran Orangutans is pretty grim. Deforestation continues to destroy their homes due to the popularity of the palm oil industry. This has had a devastating impact on the orangutan population.
Save the Orangutans
As the war rages on to save the local orangutans, Rose is the perfect example that the conservationists are making a difference.
“We are optimistic that every orangutan we treat has a chance to get back to the wild.”