Four paws, an animal rescue group based in Britain, recently saved a pregnant female orangutan and its daughter at the last minute from death, as knife-wielding bounty hunters closed in on the pair in Borneo.
The orangutan mother, having resigned herself to what seemed inevitable death, wrapped her arms around her five-year-old daughter as they were surrounded by men who were going to kill them. But as the men were moving in on the helpless pair, the international animal rescue group based in Britain arrived at the scene and stopped the men.
As the Daily Mail reports, primate expert Dr. Signe Preuschoft said, "Our arrival could not have been more timely. A few minutes later and the orangutans could have been dead. We discovered a gang of young men surrounding them and both victims were clearly petrified. The gang meanwhile were jubilant in anticipation of their rewards for catching and killing the animals."
Orang-utan mother wraps her arms around daughter as bounty hunters close in
The orangutan mother, whose age was estimated at between 25 to 30 and her five-year-old daughter, were the only orangutans the animal rescue team found left alive in the area around a palm-oil plantation in Borneo. The animal rescue group Four Paws, was investigating reports of mass slaughter of orangutans.
According to the NY Daily News, attention has been focused in recent times on the plight of orangutans in Southeast Asia, and more recently in Borneo, where destruction of the natural habitat of the animals and deforestation is threatening the survival of the species in the region.
Complicating the situation for the animals is the slaughter policy of oil palm plantations. Oil palm plantations in Borneo are offering rewards of up to $100 per dead orangutan because operators of the plantations see them as being a nuisance.
Orang-utan mother wraps her arms around her daughter as bounty hunters close in
According to the Daily Mail, Four Paws searched the area very carefully and found no orangutans. The mother and her daughter were the only ones found in that area of Borneo.
According to Four Paws, the estimated number of orangutans in the wild has dropped from 250,000 to only 50,000.
Oil Palm plantations clearing out large areas of land for cultivation had earlier denied stories they were offering up to $100 per dead animal to locals. The stories were confirmed only recently when mass graves of orangutans were found.
Even though killing of orangutans is illegal, the law is not seriously enforced. According to the Four Paws website: "Tens of thousands of adult orangutans have been slaughtered, while their orphaned offspring is frequently being sold off as pets or left behind to die, if they aren't killed on the spot as well..."
With pressure on local authorities, enforcement is being more vigorously pursued.
Four Paws said: "Mass graves that were discovered last September triggered the first few serious arrests....Before November last year only two low-level arrests had ever been made. But in the last two months 10 more arrests have taken place including the arrest of the senior manager of the plantation where the worst graves have been found..."
Four Paws moved mother and daughter orangutan to a remote and safe area of rainforest and released them into the wild. The workers attached radio devices to both animals to track them to ensure their safety (see video above).