A baby orangutan has been rescued after spending six months chained by the neck to a narrow plank of wood in a family’s kitchen.
The 18-month-old ape, named Bonika, was found chained so tightly around the neck that she was barely able to move from side to side, and was left stranded on the plank.
But the International Animal Rescue (IAR) Orangutan Centre in Ketapang, West Borneo, heard about the orangutan and rushed to its aid 200km away.
According to Bapak Hendrigus, the man who captured Bonika, he had been keeping her as a family pet since June when he claimed to have found her in the middle of a palm oil plantation.
He was on his way to work at a rubber tree plantation when he said he spotted the little orangutan alone and looking thin, so he caught her and brought her home to live with his family.
He says the ape fed on rice, sugar cane, biscuits, bread, mineral water and baby milk.
Bonika was reportedly set free for a while every morning and evening to play with his daughter, but was chained up the rest of the time to stop her escaping from the house.
Eventually, the family realised that it was illegal to keep a wild orangutan as a pet.
Hendrigus was willing to hand the orangutan over to the authorities, but he didn’t know where and how to go about it.
Fortunately, when IAR’s Human-Orangutan Conflict Team (HOC) was visiting Sandai district, where the family lives, they heard about Bonika and passed the information on to the rescue team.
Bonika will remain in baby quarantine for a few weeks to check that she is disease-free, before beginning the rehabilitation process that will allow her to return to the wild.
Alan Knight OBE, Chief Executive of International Animal Rescue, said: “What a miserable existence for a wild baby orangutan, to be chained up alone on a narrow plank of wood without the company and comfort of her mother.
“However it is heartening that Pak Hendrigus knew it was wrong to keep her as a pet and at least now she has a chance of living the life that nature intended.
“We are all relieved that Bonika is now in our care but also deeply saddened by the likely fate of her mother.
“No mother orangutan parts willingly with her baby and Bonika’s mother was almost certainly killed.
“In July the Bornean Orangutan was reclassified by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as Critically Endangered.
“Every precious individual counts: every animal we save is a triumph and every animal that dies is a tragedy.
“Babies like Bonika are our hope for the future – but it needs the will of all those involved in the orangutans’ decline to commit to preserving the forest these magnificent great apes need to survive.”