When orangutans lose their habitat through deforestation, they must look for food elsewhere. This can cause problems if an orangutan enters a residential area, as happened, for example, on 6 June 2021. That day, the East Kalimantan Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) received a report regarding a male orangutan in Loesan Village.
The BKSDA wildlife rescue squad didn’t hesitate. In a joint effort with the BOS Foundation team, they rushed to the village to rescue the orangutan.
Before the mission, news about the respective orangutan had spread widely on social media: A video featured a resident of Loesan village feeding an adult orangutan with bananas, jackfruit, and canned milk – a rather odd scenario, as orangutans usually avoid direct contact with people.
Furthermore, wild animals should not be fed human food as it is vastly different from their natural food sources. Hence the team needed to rescue the orangutan as soon as possible.
When they arrived at the village, they couldn’t find the orangutan anywhere. The residents told them that the male had returned to the forest. It was not until a few days later that the team spotted him again.
Assisted by Muhtadin Wahyu, a veterinarian from the Samboja Lestari Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, they prepared the required anaesthesia and managed to catch the orangutan.
From a brief check, Muhtadin found that the male had a deformed left index finger and a subcutaneously implanted microchip. A dental examination revealed that he was approximately 24 years old.
After arriving at our Samboja Lestari centre, the team placed him in Socialisation Cage C, which is used as a quarantine enclosure for newly arrived orangutans.
A few days later, after assessing that the male was in a stable condition, the veterinary team conducted a thorough examination to obtain more data. They performed nasal and oropharynx swab tests, a rectal swab, X-rays, a dental examination, and they took samples of his blood, sputum, hair, DNA, and fingerprints. In addition, the vets administered deworming medication. All tests and samples taken showed that the orangutan was in good health.
The analysis of the microchip underneath his skin was particularly interesting, indicating that the orangutan must have undergone rehabilitation at some point in the past. The vets read the microchip by using a special scanner and then checked BOS Foundation’s inventory data.
To the team’s surprise, the orangutan turned out to be Uli. He was rescued from Palangka Raya, Central Kalimantan, and taken to Wanariset – BOS Foundation’s old orangutan rehabilitation centre in East Kalimantan – in February 1998. The data also showed that Uli was released to the wild at a very young age, in September 1999, in the Meratus Mountain Protection Forest.
How exciting that Uli survived independently of humans for over 20 years! We hope he can eventually be transferred to a pre-release island and then back to the rainforest, far away from human settlements.