Sumatran Orangutan in Critical Condition with 74 Pellets Found in Her Body

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sumatran orangutan
Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii). Photo: Yayasan Ekonomi Lestari-Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (YEL-SOCP)

Jakarta (Greeners) – Aceh Natural Resources Conservation Agency, Wildlife Conservation Society Indonesia Program (WCS-IP), and HOCRU-IC teams evacuated a female Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii) and her offspring. The mother is in critical condition from stabbings on right hand, right leg, back, and 74 pellets are found inside of her body. The bullets also hit her right eye. Meanwhile, her one month old baby found with her died during the evacuation process.

The evacuation was made possible because of report from local villager, Sanita, to Aceh Natural Resources Agency about ongoing conflict with orangutan in Bunga Tanjung village, Sultan Daulat subdistrict, Subulussalam city of Aceh.

On 9 March 2019, the agency dispatched a team to check the location and found one orangutan with the nest and traces of foods, including palm oil leaves and coconut leaves.

“From medical examination, the wounds found in this orangutan body have been there two or three months, especially the shots. It means this orangutan had spent quite a long time at the plantation but local did not report to us,” said Head of the agency, Sapto Aji via phone on Wednesday (13/03/2019).

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Furthermore, Aji said that the orangutan was isolated in a palm oil plantation belong to one of the villagers. Based on local people’s report, it was not in a good condition. Children in the area stated that it had already been hit with tools made of palm oil and the baby was already taken from its mother.

“When we found the baby, it was already malnourished and in shock because its mother was injured and could give good food to her offspring. The baby died during the evacuation and buried at Orangutan Quarantine Center in Sibolangit of North Sumatra,” he said.

The mother, who is named Hope, is currently under intensive treatment in the quarantine.

sumatran orangutan

Photo: Yayasan Ekonomi Lestari-Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (YEL-SOCP)

Based on preliminary examination, Hope is 35.68 kilograms with dull hair and dry skin, and her dehydration status is >10 percent. Her mouth is swollen, wounds and bruises found in her body, possible permanent damage right eye as it is swollen, smaller with white color. The eye damage is predicted to have occurred two to three months ago.

In addition, X-ray result shows 74 pellets spread in her body, broken left Clavicula bone (the bone tear up the skin), broken left pelvic with crack more less two centimeters.

“Hope incident is being investigated by Aceh police. However, based on my hypothesis, this orangutan got into conflict [with local villagers] because of her baby. They were interested [of the baby] and they sold it, it is high price for this baby. So, the mother tried to protect the baby. The indication is the pellets have been inside of Hope’s body for two months, that means they shot her when she was pregnant,” he said.

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Hence, he sent out letter to Aceh police on rifles possession referring to the regulation issued by the national police in 2012 which stipulates rifles only for sports and needs permission.

Subulussalam is the fourth incident of rifles used to kill orangutans in Aceh, between 2010 and 2014. The first incident occurred in Southeast Aceh, second in South Aceh, and third in East Aceh.

Reports by Dewi Purningsih