December 19, 2010
My mother was burnt alive
By Amy Chew
Save Orang Utans
The orang utan is our closest ‘relative’ yet we have taken more than our
fair share of the land, destroying their habitat, driving them to certain death. Two foundations are racing against
time to lease forest land to shelter them. They need our help.
THIS cuddly, adorable baby orang-utan is an orphan in Indonesia’s Central
Kalimantan. Thousands of them are also found in Sumatra island and Malaysia’s state of Sabah and
Under what circumstances his mother died, his carers at the Nyaru Menteng Orang
Utan Rehabilitation Centre do not know.
Helpless: This baby orang utan is an orphan in Indonesia’s Central Kalimantan
Nyaru Menteng Rehabilitation Centre.
But what is certain she met with a cruel and violent end – hacked to pieces, burnt
or shot to death – like so many others before her.
As forest land is cleared by legal and illegal logging, palm oil and other
agricultural plantations, thousands of orang utans are losing their habitat and source of food.
Hungry and desperate for food, they sometimes wander into palm oil plantations and
eat the shoots of young plants where plantation workers will kill them in the most inhumane way.
“Palm oil workers, often offered a bounty, will take out these orang utan by any
means possible,” says Michelle Desilets, founder of the Orang Utan Land Trust (OLT).
“Our rescue teams have found orang utan beaten unconcious and buried alive,
butchered with machetes, beaten to death with iron bars and wooden planks,” she says.
“There have been times when the workers douse the orang utan with petrol and then
throw a lighted match, burning them alive,” Desilet adds.
Every year, an estimated 2,000-3,000 orang utan perish from the loss of their
habitat, causing them to die of starvation or suffer cruel deaths.
Safe: A baby Orang Utan from the Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre.
Orang utan also die when forests fires break out, either set alight by the dry
season, or deliberate burning by errant plantations or traditional farmers.
The orang utan, which means people of the forest, is our closest relative. It has
a DNA which is almost 98% of that of a human being.
Only two percent separate us from these highly-intelligent creatures who have the
capacity to feel the same emotions as a human being – pain, joy or sorrow.
The female orang utan are amongst the most protective mammals in the animal
kingdom, who will give up their lives to protect their young.
When poachers hunt for baby orang utan to be sold off at a princely sum to animal
traffickers, they always have to kill the mother who will defend her young to her last breath.
It is estimated that only 45,000-55,000 orang utan are left in the wild. Of that,
11,000 are in Sabah and another 4,000 in Sarawak.
More than a century ago, some scientists estimate there could have been as many as
a million of these creatures.
OLT and Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOS) are working together to secure
land in Kalimantan to save the orang utans from extinction.
OLT, a registered charity in England and Wales, supports sustainable solutions for
the long-term survival of the orang utan in the wild by securing safe forests for their continued
“If we can secure forests BEFORE it is cleared, then fewer orang utans will face
this fate ... so that orang utans do not face a lifetime in a cage in a rescue centre,” said Desilets.
BOS is an non-profit organisation with the vision to establish a Bornean orang
utan conservation in its natural habitat. It’s financial reports are audited annually by reputable
BOS, with the support of OLT, is raising money to lease 300,000ha of tropical
forest land spread across the vast expanse of Kalimantan to save the orang utan from certain death.
The 60-year-lease for the 300,000ha from the Indonesian government costs 45
billion rupiah (RM15.9 million).
“To date, BOS Foundation has raised 13 billion rupiah (RM4.56 million) to pay for
the licence fee in East Kalimantan for an area of 86,450 hectares,” said BOS chairman Togu Manurung.
BOS still needs to raise the remaining sum of money to pay for licence fees for
the remaining 213,550 hectares of land as well as to fund the costs of transporting the orang utan to leased forest
With 25ha of rainforest being destroyed every minute, time is running
Instead of another nice dress or shirt, why not give someone a meaningful
Christmas gift by donating to give the orang utan a chance to live?
In doing so, we restore our own humanity, worthy to be called human.
To donate, go to www.forests4orangutans.org or www.orangutan.or.id.
Source: The Star