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Borneo: Palm Oil Industry Behind Murderous Bounties on Orangutans
January 27, 2012
Don't hurt my baby! Pregnant orang-utan protectively hugs her daughter as ruthless Borneo bounty hunters move in for the kill
Pair saved at last minute by Brit-based animal rescue group
Palm oil firms trying to clear plantations said to be offering 70-pounds for each orang-utan killed on the Borneo palm oil plantations
By Richard Shears
As bounty hunters with bush knives entrapped them in a circle and moved in for the kill, the only thing this mother orangutan could think to do was to wrap a giant protective arm around her daughter.
The pair seemed to be facing a certain death as a gang of hunters surrounded them in Borneo, keen to cash in on the palm oil plantations' bid to be rid of the animals. But, happily, a team from the British-based international animal rescue group Four Paws arrived in time to stop the slaughter and saved their lives.
The pregnant mother and daughter were captured and moved to a remote and safe area of the rainforest and released back into the wild - but not before the mother was equipped with a radio device so she and her young can be tracked to ensure they remain safe.
'Our arrival could not have been more timely,' said Dr Signe Preuschoft, a Four Paws primate expert.
'A few minutes later and the orang-utans could have been dead.
'We discovered a gang of young men surrounding them and both victims were
Rescue: When the animal rescue group found the 'clearly petrified' mother and baby they discovered a gang of young men who were looking to cash in on the palm oil companies' offer of 70-pounds per orang-utan
Before the rescue, a Four Paws team had scoured the area on the Indonesian side of Borneo, which is shared with Malaysia, but found no other orang-utans which had survived an earlier slaughter.
Deforestation has dramatically reduced their habitat and their numbers have dropped from 250,000 a few decades ago to only 50,000 in the wild.
And while the loss of their habitat by logging companies has created a
major threat to their existence, a more brutal form of reducing their
numbers has emerged in recent years - direct slaughter.
Everything must go: The plantations, which are carving great swathes
through south-east asia as they cut down trees to farm palm oil for the
West, view the orang-utans as a pest
'Before November last year only two low-level arrests had ever been made.
'But in the last two months 10 more arrests have taken place including the arrest of the senior manager of the plantation where the worst graves have been found.'
In an equally tragic scenario, babies left alive after adult orang-utans have been slaughtered have been put up for sale in the pet trade by hunters.
When traumatised babies are found by Four Paws and other animal rescue teams they are taken to a sanctuary and taught skills they will need in order to return to the wild.