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ORANGUTANS AND NATURE’S REMEDIES

Rakus, a Sumatran orangutan, has been in the news using Akar Kuning (Fibraurea tinctoria) to treat an injury by chewing up the leaves of the plant and putting them directly on his wound.

F. tinctoria has long been used in traditional medicine to treat wounds and other conditions like diabetes, dysentery, and malaria. It has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antioxidant properties that are all helpful for wound healing.

It’s not the first time orangutans have been seen using rainforest medicines, as we report below. (Nor is it the first time complex and intelligent behaviours have been observed.) This once again highlights the importance of protecting these precious habitats which have the potential to help humankind too.

Previous Observations

In the Sabangau Forest, it has been primarily adult female orangutans have been observed using the Dracaena cantleyi plant for self-medication. They will chew the leaves to produce a white soapy lather which they rub onto their bodies. Scientists found Dracaena Cantleyi has anti-inflammatory properties. Female orangutans use this plant to soothe sore muscles and joints from the extra weight of carrying their infants while climbing through the forest canopy. (Source: https://news-archive.exeter.ac.uk/featurednews/title_632053_en.html)

Nesting behavior of Bornean immature Orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus wurmbii) in Nyaru Menteng Arboretum School, Palangka Raya, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia: Orangutans use twigs, leaves, and liana from at least 9 types of trees in the rainforest to make their nests. There is evidence that some of these varieties have mosquito-repellent properties t (Morrogh-Bernard et al. 2017).

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