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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Orang utan under threat

In Central Kalimantan, the hunters and poachers have the blood of orang utan on their hands. The forests that are home to these animals are also being cleared at an alarming rate in the name of development. A rehabilitation centre offers some measure of hope, writes AMY CHEW.

NODDY, an orphaned baby orang utan, climbs up a tree and stares into the distance at the Nyaru Menteng Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre, his future as uncertain as the existence of the forests which used to be his home.

His mother was killed in the wilds, under what circumstances, his carers do not really know.

But what is sure is that she met with a cruel and violent end -- hacked to pieces, burnt or shot to death -- like so many others before her.

In a forest in Sampit, an animal poacher fires a shot at a female orang utan with a baby in her arms. As the orang utan falls, she clings tightly to her baby.

When the hunter comes over to the dying creature, he is stunned -- he sees tears flowing from its eyes.

Orang utan have emotions just like humans. They can cry, worry and experience sorrow and joy.
Orang utan have emotions just like humans. They can cry, worry and experience sorrow and joy.
"The mother held on to her baby until she breathed her last," recounts Eko Haryuwono, founder of the Nyaru Menteng orang utan rescue unit.

"The hunter was moved by the orang utan's tears and has since stopped killing them."

The hunter now helps the rescue team by informing the unit of orang utan in danger of being killed or poached.

The orang utan, or people of the forest, is our closest relative. Orang utan and humans share 98 per cent of the same DNA.

"They have emotions just like humans. They can cry, worry and experience sorrow and joy just like us," says Eko.

Saving the orang utan will be a demonstration of our humanity, that we are indeed worthy to be called humans, and not beasts.

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