by vet Syifa Sidik
At the end of September our colleagues at The Centre for Orangutan Protection informed us of an orangutan living in frightful conditions in Kubu Raya Regency in West Kalimantan, some 150 kilometres from Ketapang. Knowing that this would be no easy task, on 5th October, in conjunction with the local BKSDA, our rescue team set off on the lengthy journey to Kubu Raya. One plane ride, car ride and some gruelling hours later, our team arrived at the house of Mr Hermansah, the owner of an adult male orangutan called Kiki.
Mr Hermansah is a retired soldier who was previously stationed near the border between West and Central Kalimantan. Even though he claimed to know and understand the regulations and prohibition on the purchase and keeping of orangutans, he did it anyway and, according to him, he had owned Kiki for 13 years! As he grew bigger and stronger Kiki became too much to handle and Mr Hermansah decided to to surrender him, but only to someone competent in the field of wildlife husbandry and particularly orangutans. Mr Hermansah claimed he had tried for several years to surrender Kiki to government officials in West Kalimantan and also contacted several NGOs and other organisations but to no avail. As he had no success finding a suitable place for Kiki, the orangutan entered adulthood living in a small cramped captive environment and not in the vast lush jungle of West Kalimantan. After examining him, our vet estimated Kiki’s age at between 8 and 10 years old. He is, however, incredibly small for his size owing to malnourishment and his cramped living conditions.
Kiki has spent years housed in a small, rusty, steel cage with no door. His cage was placed directly on the dirty ground and was surrounded by mountains of excrement. His diet consisted of the usual food items that we have found orangutan owners feed their pets: rice, fried rice, coffee, snacks, fruits and vegetables, to name but a few. Kiki was also occasionally permitted out of his cage to play around Mr Hermansah’s house and to play with the neighbours.
Kiki has a very calm temperament. During the 12 hour boat ride back to our rehabilitation centre in Sei Awan, near Ketapang, he was a model passenger, never displaying a bad temper and doing what the vet asked of him. He is safe now and settling in nicely at our quarantine facilities.
We’ll be bringing you more on Kiki when his time in quarantine is up and he’s ready to be introduced to some of the other orangutans at the centre.