Ten rescued orangutans have been released back into the wild in the Indonesian part of Borneo island. With helicopters, the critically endangered great apes were transported deep into the forest from rehabilitation centres.
The Bornean orangutans had all been in captivity before their rescue. Five males, a mother with two babies, and two other females were released with assistance from Indonesian conservation agencies.
“Using a helicopter is the best way to transport orangutans during the pandemic,” said Denny Kurniawan, program manager at the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF).
Orangutans and other apes are sensitive to human respiratory illnesses, so veterinarians wore protective suits and masks during final medical checkups.
Rehabilitation has been a slow process for the orangutans. Most of the apes found it difficult to develop the skills needed to fend for themselves in the wild, because of the long time they spent in captivity.
There are only around 100,000 Bornean orangutans left in the wild, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
They have suffered from illegal poaching and destruction of habitat due to large-scale logging and replacement of forests with cash crops such as palm oil.
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