By Ellie Duncombe
Rescuers were forced to step in and relocate an endangered orangutan after he started threatening local villagers.
Deforestation meant Abun had lost his home and was increasingly coming into contact with farmers, stealing their sugarcane and banana plants to stay alive.
International Animal Rescue agents stepped in to save the male orangutan before he hurt himself or was attacked by the villagers.
He was removed from the trees in Kalibaru, on the edge of the Sungai Putri Forest in Indonesian Borneo.
Photos and video from the team show then trampling through the trees to get to a spot to put the orangutan to sleep, before transporting him to safety in a large metal cage filled with leaves.
Abun’s rescue went quickly and smoothly. After being hit with an anaesthetic dart, he fell cleanly into the net held by the team below.
They then transported him to IAR’s Orangutan Conservation Centre in Ketapang for a thorough medical check and treatment.
He will only be released when they have found a suitable area of forest.
The IAR has increasingly been forced to relocate orangutans because of increasing numbers of run-ins with local farmers.
Karmele Sanchez, programme director of IAR Indonesia, said: “Human-orangutan conflict is one of the main reasons why we have to rescue orangutans.
“When an orangutan is causing economic loss to farmers, then it is time for us to step in. But a rescue and translocation operation is always a last resort.
“If we do not protect the orangutan’s habitat, then there will be no end to the number needing to be rescued and taken into rehabilitation centres.
“It is imperative that we protect all forests that contain orangutans and stop the rapid decline which otherwise will ultimately push orangutans to extinction.
“Returning an orangutan like Abun to the wold presents many challenges. A raft of issues must be taken into consideration when we are trying to identify a suitable forest.
“Our team must ensure that any potential new habitat will provide legal and ecological protection for the orangutan.
“In addition, surveys of food availability and orangutan density are required to ensure that, once released, the orangutan will have enough to eat and will not have to compete for survival with too many rivals.”
In July last year the Bornean orangutan was reclassified as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
The new assessment found that hunting, habitat destruction, habitat degradation and fragmentation are the biggest drivers behind the population loss.