OFI's Rescue Team and Veterinarians
Give Hope to Orangutan Victims of
The Palm Oil Industry
His name is Korban. It means "victim" in the Indonesian language. He is an older cheekpadded orangutan who should be able to live out his twilight years in the ancient forests of his ancestors. Instead, like so many members of his species, he has been caught in the violent crossfire between palm oil development and shrinking forest habitat. Korban was brought to OFI's Orangutan Care Center and Quarantine (OCCQ) in Pasir Panjang recently with severe injuries that required immediate medical attention in order to save his life. This is his story.
Korban's troubles began when he wandered into a palm oil plantation where he was subsequently attacked and captured by workers. While the full story of what followed is not completely clear, it is widely known that on many plantations in Indonesia orangutans are considered agricultural pests and are beaten, burned, shot or killed. Those that survive are often held illegally in unthinkable conditions, chained to trees, locked in small sheds or boxes, left to starve or die from injuries sustained from their brutal encounter with humans. Some, like Korban, are rescued by OFI and given a second chance.
OFI's staff veterinarian, Dr. Popowati, checks vital signs of sedated orangutan during rescue.
The local forestry department was called after Korban was captured. His condition was so bad that they decided not to translocate him. The goal of translocation is to capture and release an animal back into the wild, with minimal handling and in as short a period of time as possible. OFI always participates in these operations. Our veterinarians, Dr. Popowati and Dr. Prima, administer medical expertise in the field, evaluating the orangutan's
OFI Rescue Team transports sedated orangutan.
overall physical condition, taking blood and other samples, and inserting a microchip for future identification. Our trained Rescue Team Assistants provide essential skill and sensitivity in safely handling strong orangutans under difficult field conditions.
For Korban, what began as a translocation effort quickly turned into a life-saving mission when OFI's Rescue Team discovered that he is completely blind and thus unable to survive in the wild. The cause of his blindness became
Korban's blindness caused by severe beating.
evident: Repeated blows to his head during his initial capture by plantation workers had caused one of his eyes to pop out and burst; the other eye was still in his head but was also blind.
Today, Korban is recovering from his injuries at OFI's quarantine facility. His stress levels and fear have calmed and he is adapting well to his new situation. He responds to the sounds of people (by moving towards them) who give him branches for browse and nest building. His caregivers have developed a communication technique during feeding time, whereby they tap lightly on the bars of his enclosure to signal the location of his food and water. He is now sitting up and lacerations on his back are healing.
Korban's wounds are healing.
Sadly, Korban's story is a replay of a familiar tune with a few altered notes. Three months ago, Luthi, a wild adult female captured on another palm oil plantation, was rescued and brought to the OCCQ after an extended time spent chained by her wrists. The skin, flesh, and tendons on her wrists had been rubbed away to the bone, and open wounds on her head, shoulders, and hips (from repeated beatings) were the suspected cause of her blindness and deafness. She had endured indescribable pain and suffering at the hands of humans. After bravely battling her injuries in our Care Center for more than a month, surrounded by OFI staff and volunteers who rotated in 12-hour bedside shifts, day and night, Luthi passed away.
For Korban, the future looks more hopeful in that he may survive. Unfortunately, as long as he is blind, OFI will not be able to return this former victim of callous human ignorance to a protected forest where he can safely live out his life as a wild and free orangutan once again.
Every step of humanitarian effort provided by OFI--from rescue and confiscation, to transportation, housing, feeding, veterinary care, and, in the best cases, release back to the wild and subsequent monitoring--requires tremendous resources and people power. We thank you for making it possible to give Korban and others like him a second chance.
Click here to support OFI's orangutan conservation work, including the rescue and care of orangutans like Korban and Luthi.