Battling cruelty: orangutan rescue and humane education

Orangutans are vulnerable as their habitat disappears

Orangutans are vulnerable as their habitat disappears

Orangutans face habitat destruction, violence and abduction. By rescuing as many as possible and providing humane education for local people, the Borneo Orangutan Survival (BOS) Foundation is working to combat both the causes and consequences of human cruelty.

A frightening number of this endangered species are in need of the BOS Foundation’s expert Rescue Teams, who deliver traumatised apes to the rehabilitation centres. WSPA is appealing for funds to ensure the Foundation can continue to relieve the orangutans’ often appalling suffering.

Hungry, homeless and hounded

When areas of rainforest are burned down to make way for oil palm plantations, the tree-dwelling orangutans’ nests and food sources are destroyed. The Rescue Teams remove starving or injured orangutans from danger and protect them from bounty hunters, paid by plantation owners to kill any ape discovered near the crop.

To reach the orangutans sooner and save more lives, the BOS Foundation has opened a dialogue with a group of palm oil producers. Now alerted if an orangutan is found near a co-operating plantation, a Rescue Team can swiftly transport the animal to a rehabilitation centre

These relationships, part of a humane education strategy, have led to plantation owners themselves delivering injured orangutans to the Foundation’s care.

Liberation from miserable lives

Once a rainforest suitable for orangutan habitation, this land has been cleared for industry

Once a rainforest suitable for orangutan habitation, this land has been cleared for industry

© Steve Leonard for BOS Foundation

Infant orangutans are targeted for the pet trade. When wild adult orangutans are killed, the young are captured live, although often maimed during the violence. To prevent these attacks, the BOS Foundation moves orangutans that are cornered in small forest areas to safer land. 

Laws do exist to protect Borneo’s orangutans from abuse, but they are rarely enforced. The Rescue Teams are working with Indonesia’s Ministry of Forestry to change this by confiscating animals held in illegal captivity. In just one case, 48 orangutans were taken from the cruelty of Thai animal shows to the Foundation’s rehabilitation centres.

Creating a safer future through education

The Rescue Teams work to prevent future cruelty by visiting local schools to talk about their work. The environmental education programme enables children to visit an orangutan rehabilitation centre and see firsthand the intensive care it takes to repair the damage caused by humans.

The BOS Foundation’s public awareness programme aims to reach the whole community; a permanent information centre is open for locals and visitors. Combined with the many jobs the rehabilitation and reforesting work provides, respect for the orangutans is growing.


Read more about WSPA’s humane education work >>


UN FSRB
WSPA