After a second rescue in almost as many days, an orangutan confiscation team seized the baby male ape from a rural village in Aceh Barat Daya District, close to the Tripa peat swamp forests in Aceh Province, Indonesia. Rahul was discovered tied up to a small shop and in poor shape.
The team comprising staff and a veterinarian from the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program
(SOCP: PanEco Foundation and YEL: Yayasan Ekosistem Lestari), were accompanied by local armed police, and field staff from BKSDA Aceh (the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry’s nature conservation agency in Aceh), after learning that the ape was being held illegally as a pet.
After conducting a health check on Rahul, SOCP's specialist orangutan veterinarian drh Yenny Saraswati, said in a press release
, that the condition of the young male was "not good." Saraswati added that Rahul was:
"Suffering from malnutrition, his skin is bad, and he has a wound from where he has been tied with a rope. We will provide medical treatment, monitor his condition, then release him in a healthy forest."
Of course a healthy habitat for orangutans is rapidly diminishing said SOCP, pushing the Sumatran orangutan to the brink of extinction. Just two days ago, the same team was forced to conduct an emergency extraction
of a large adult male orangutan trapped in a small pocket of forest in the Tripa peat swamps. The orangutan was in danger of starving, already malnourished because of loss of habitat from encroaching palm oil plantations.
The situation for the Sumatran orangutan in the Tripa peat swamp forests could not be more dire. On April 17, the Head of the Indonesian Government’s special REDD+ Task Force, Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, announced an immediate detailed investigation to determine if land allocation for palm oil plantations had been granted illegally.
Outgoing Aceh governor Irwandi Yusuf had signed the permit last August, two years after a ban on permits was instituted for the area. It allowed palm oil company PT Kallista Alam, to convert a 1,605-hectare plot of protected peatland forest in the Nagan Raya district into oil palm plantations.
According to The Jakarta Post
, Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan is planning to visit Aceh later this month to meet with the newly elected governor Zaini Abdullah to discuss forestry conditions in Aceh, including the Tripa peat land.
The Tripa peat land area is a critical part of the Leuser ecosystem said environmental groups, and the issuing of the permit by former governor Irwandi, breached a moratorium on forest clearing established June 2011, that should have protected the peat lands.
The plight of the Tripa's orangutans first came to light last month after reports surfaced of orangutans being killed in fires set illegally by palm oil companies. At the beginning of April, Dr. Singleton told Digital Journal, that if deforestation wasn't halted, Sumatran orangutans could be extinct by the end of 2012