"We are very pleased to see the positive response from the public towards this 'viral' photo. Seeing this, we are left wondering how wild animals can be even friendlier to humans than we are to them. However, they belong in their habitat, not with us. By protecting their habitat, we help to preserve and maintain the balance of nature.
Regarding this photo, it was indeed taken at one of our places of work, the Samboja Lestari Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in East Kalimantan. There, we have built several islands for the orangutans who cannot be released into the forest like Anih, the orangutan in this photo. We are trying to move as many unreleasable orangutans as possible to open, forested islands. For the forest-like condition of these islands to be properly maintained, we must maintain the environment by regularly cleaning the river of overgrown grasses and excess sedimentation. Syahrul, the BOSF technician in this photo, was doing this maintenance. These islands for orangutans are limited access, to prevent contact between humans and orangutans, with limited exceptions being made for medical treatment carried out by veterinarians. Only BOSF staff and related agencies with special permits can enter the island.
Anih and Syahrul have known each other for a long time, from the early 1990s. In this photo, we will never know exactly what happened. Anih may have looked like she was offering a help to Syahrul. However, Anih very easily could have been asking for food from Syahrul, as Anih and some other orangutans are still dependent on humans. The lengthy period of captivity that Anih and other orangutans have endured prior to being handed over to BOSF is one of the biggest hurdles we must overcome in the rehabilitation process in order to return them to their wild, forest homes. Other challenges include the limited availability of release sites, the low number of naturalistic islands for unreleaseable orangutans, and the length of captivity prior to rescue that makes the number of unreleasable orangutans like Anih all too high.
Even though we cannot capture it on camera, all this time orangutans have been helping us without us knowing it. Their presence in the forest helps to maintain the forest quality which ultimately gives us fresh air, clean water, an orderly climate, and countless other gifts."
Posted: 11th Feb 2020
We work to save the orangutan by rescuing and rehabilitating them, with an ultimate goal of releasing them back to the forest where they will be safe from human development, poaching and farming.
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