Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Rescued baby orangutan finds a new home

April 15, 2009
The Star

KUCHING: A baby orang utan which had been rescued from captivity was handed over to the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre here Wednesday.

The six-month-old male animal was rescued by retired soldier Kanang Langkau and his friend Tay Choon Yong, both from Sri Aman.

Tay said he was driving through Lingga bazaar near Sri Aman, about 200km from here, last Friday when he came across a boy playing with the baby orang utan by the roadside.

“I don’t know how the boy got hold of the orang utan but I suspect that it was being kept as a pet,” he said.

He persuaded the boy to give him the baby orang utan by telling him that it could not be kept as a pet and that it probably would not survive in captivity.

Tay then called Kanang to inform him about the baby orang utan and Kanang proposed sending it to Semenggoh where it would be taken care of.

The two of them drove here Wednesday to hand the animal over to Sarawak Forestry staff at Semenggoh and requested it be named Simanggang, the old name for Sri Aman division where it was found.

Kanang said this was the first time he had seen a baby orang utan.

“In my 25 years serving in the jungle during my army days, I never came across a baby orang utan.

“They’re so rare and we need to protect them so that our grandchildren can still see them in the future,” he said.

Sarawak Forestry Chief Park Warden Wilfred Landong said the baby orang utan would be sent to Matang Wildlife Centre for rehabilitation.

“The ultimate objective is to get it back into the wild again. In future, we may release it at Kubah National Park, where Matang Wildlife Centre is located, or at Semenggoh,” he said.

He added that special care would have to be given to the baby as it was without its mother.

“We’ll see if we can find it a surrogate mother at Matang,” he said.

Landong said Sarawak Forestry would investigate how the baby orang utan ended up in captivity.

“If there is any need to take action, the appropriate action will be taken. But our immediate concern is to rehabilitate the baby orang utan,” he said, adding that Sarawak Forestry conducts ongoing awareness programmes to educate rural communities about orang utan.

He also said Sarawak Forestry would send a team to Lingga to find out whether there was any previously unknown orang utan habitat in the area.

“We’re very interested whether there’s a new habitat there. If yes, we will propose steps to protect the area,” he said.

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