Photos by: Lis Key, International Animal Rescue
An orangutan who was wrongly being kept as a ‘pet’ in Senduruhan Village, Hulu Sungai District, Ketapang, West Borneo, was recently rescued by the Wildlife Rescue Unit (WRU) of the Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) in West Kalimantan, along with a team from International Animal Rescue (IAR) Indonesia.
The orangutan, named Kukur, was being kept in a hut in the middle of the woods, living with a family and their dogs, pigs, and chickens. The orangutan’s ‘owner’ claimed to have found Kukur in the forest while he was farming. He said he felt sorry for the orangutan and brought him home, where he was tied up with a rope around his neck and fed rice, instant noodles, coffee, and fruit.
The IAR Indonesia medical team who took part in the rescue found old wounds on Kukur’s neck and ankles. The vet estimated the orangutan to be about five years old.
The team transported Kukur to the IAR Indonesia center in the village of Sungai Awan in Ketapang District. The center has all the facilities required for the care and rehabilitation of orangutans. Kukur will spend eight weeks in quarantine, during which time he will also undergo further medical examinations to ensure that he is not harboring any diseases that could be transmitted to other orangutans at the facility.
In the past eight months, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the BKSDA Kalbar, together with IAR Indonesia, have saved seven orangutans. The economic impact of the pandemic on the local community has been significant and this has brought a renewed threat to nature.
“We have seen an increase in illegal activities in the forest,” Karmele L Sanchez, Programme Director of IAR Indonesia said in an email sent to WAN. “In a couple of areas, people have been hit very hard and have been forced to take up activities that threaten natural habitat and wildlife.”
The general consensus of the scientific community is that one of the factors that can cause a pandemic is the pressure of human beings on the natural world. Per the Indonesian Ministry of Health website, it is claimed that 60% of human diseases are known to originate from animals, and 75% of diseases attacking humans in the last three decades are derived from animals. Factors leading to an increase in the risk of zoonoses include the disruption of the balance of nature, changes in the status of land, an unhealthy relationship between humans and wild animals, particularly the wildlife trade, as well as the disruption of wildlife habitats.
“The more we disrupt nature, the higher the risk of disease transmission from animals to humans, as well as the emergence of a pandemic such as the one we are currently experiencing,” continued Sanchez. “The risk of zoonotic diseases is not to be taken lightly. As we know, the COVID-19 virus has come from animals. If human beings continue to have contact with wild animals, we face the threat of more zoonotic diseases and pandemics in the future.”
As noted by Sanchez, “One way to avoid future pandemics is to maintain the balance of natural ecosystems by not trading in wildlife or keeping wild animals in captivity. Hunting in any case is unsustainable and could lead to the total extinction of species in the wild. This problem is now of even greater importance because it is no longer just an issue of species conservation or animal welfare, but an issue of global human health.”
As part of IAR Indonesia’s ongoing efforts to reduce cases of wildlife being kept in captivity, as well as to raise awareness of the need to protect animals in the wild to prevent the spread of zoonoses, IAR Indonesia fielded an education team in a number of areas, including the District of Hulu River.
“I am delighted that BKSDA and IAR Indonesia have stepped in to save Kukur – for the sake of his welfare, the welfare of the villagers who had him living in their midst at great risk to their health, and for the sake of the Bornean orangutan species as a whole, which is so critically endangered that the survival of every individual counts,” shared Alan Knight OBE, IAR’s Chief Executive. “Now Kukur will undergo rehabilitation at the conservation center in Ketapang and eventually return to his rightful home in the forest.”
The post 5-Year-Old Orangutan Named Kukur Was Rescued In West Borneo, This Marks The 7th Orangutan Saved Since The Start Of The COVID-19 Pandemic appeared first on World Animal News.
A first-of-its-kind virtual weekend festival, The Forgotten Elephants of Odisha, is scheduled to take place on November 7th and 8th. The enlightening and entertaining event, featuring guest of honor Dr. Jane Goodall, features film screenings, live music, a silent auction, and much more; all to raise awareness and funds to protect the remaining 2,000 Asian elephants of Odisha, India.
WAN talked with noted wildlife filmmaker and the Founder of Voice for Asian Elephants Society (VFAES), Sangita Iyer, about the plight of the elephants of Odisha, and the impactful ways they will use the funds raised from the event to save them.
Iyer also shared how the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the event morphing from what was a one-time screening of the acclaimed documentary Gods In Shackles, which she produced and directed, into a two-day festival that people from around the world can now experience virtually.
“This whole event is because the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a curve ball, not only to people, but the elephants of Odisha,” Iyer, who is also a National Geographic Explorer, a broadcast journalist, and a biologist, told WAN. “The increased anxiety and economic pressure resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic has been like tossing a match on tinder, making an already dire situation for the elephants even more perilous.”
Tragically, an estimated 60 elephants across India have recently been killed by electrocution, poisoning, or poaching for the illicit ivory trade. More than 20 of the elephants that were killed during the pandemic were in Odisha, which Iyer describes as “a graveyard for elephants.”
“Electrocution has been an issue for over a decade, but the past three years it has intensified. Now, even more because of COVID-19,” shared Iyer, explaining that the poor elephants are homeless and hungry due to human encroachment on their natural habitat.
Sadly, an estimated 78% of wildlife habitat in Odisha has been decimated, leaving the elephants with nowhere to hide, starving, in search of food. Already threatened due to the pandemic, the elephants are now exposed even more to the brutalities of human-animal conflict, as locals, many whom are farmers, remain at home and afraid that they will lose their livelihoods.
“People have encroached onto their sacred land and exploited forest resources. Additionally, climate change, exacerbated by human actions is further deteriorating the forest ecosystems, leaving these elephants with nothing inside the forests. Homeless and starved, these elephants venture into human dwellings and croplands for food, where they are getting electrocuted, poisoned, and hunted down,” explained Iyer. “Male elephants and pregnant females have been the victims of an endless COVID lockdown, as people’s lives have been ravaged and they are spilling over their anger and hatred onto the innocent elephants.”
To understand the severity of the problem, Iyer shared some staggering statistics with WAN, including that 1.38 billion people currently live in India. In Odisha alone, there are approximately 45 million people, many living along the forest fringes and corridors that elephants have established over thousands of years. That is why the elephants and humans in Odisha remain in a constant and often-times life-or-death struggle for limited resources.
It is unfathomable. India is three times smaller than the United States yet has three times as many people.
VFAES and WPSI will work with a team of local conservationists to steer knowledge-driven elephant conservation actions to some of the most vulnerable regions of the state. Over the long term, Iyer and her team aim to secure a future for Odisha’s forgotten elephants, by promoting a harmonious and respectful human elephant co-existence.
Funds raised by the November 7th and 8th virtual event will be used to help save 2,000 wild elephants in Odisha, by hiring native people to monitor and implement numerous strategies including:
Preventing electrocution by fixing sagging wires and removing wire traps, many which are on farms illegally.
Monitoring important corridors for elephants to travel as they are migratory animals.
Recruiting rangers to monitor the area, for poaching, and to alleviate more senseless deaths of elephants.
Raising awareness and educating locals, including school children, about the plight of the elephants in Odisha.
Learn more about the silent auction, which begins October 24th, and bid on the more than 100 available items, HERE!
More information about The Forgotten Elephants of Odisha weekend festival on November 7th and 8th can be found, HERE!
Tickets, ranging from $15 to $100 are also available for purchase, HERE!
You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg
The post WAN Talks With World Renowned Elephant Advocate Sangita Iyer About Virtual Festival On November 7th & 8th That Will Help Save Odisha’s Last 2,000 Wild Elephants appeared first on World Animal News.