The world’s only albino orangutan could soon have a personal 12-acre moat-enclosed ‘forest island’ after being rescued from villagers earlier this year.
She was being held captive by locals when she was saved by a team from the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation, a conservation organisation in Indonesia.
The group said today that the 5-year-old great ape, which it named Alba, cannot be safely returned to the wild because of health problems related to her albinism.
She has poor eyesight and hearing as well as an increased likelihood of skin cancer later in life.
Alba, an albino orangutan, sits on a branch of a tree while eating watermelon at Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Rehabilitation Center in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia
When Alba was rescued, she was in poor condition, suffering from a parasitic infection and dehydration, but since then has more than doubled in weight
Haggard: Alba was in a terrible condition when she was first rescued
Spokesman Nico Hermanu said the foundation is starting a public appeal to raise $80,000 needed to buy land for the special reserve near its orangutan rehabilitation center in central Kalimantan on the island of Borneo.
‘To ensure that Alba can live a free and fulfilling life we are making her a forest island home, where she can live freely in natural habitat, but protected from threats posed by humans,’ the foundation said.
At the time of her rescue, the charity said: ‘She was held captive by local residents for two days and still displays wild behaviours, meaning there is a good chance she could soon be released back to a natural habitat.’
But her bad health and fears she could be captured again have ruled out any dreams of her returning to the wild.
The charity said Alba would share the moat-enclosed reserve with three other orangutans she has bonded with since she was rescued from Tanggiran village in Central Kalimantan in April after apparently becoming separated from her mother.
Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation said today the 5-year-old great ape, which it named Alba, cannot be safely returned to the wild because of health problems related to her albinism
At the time, she was in poor condition, suffering from a parasitic infection and dehydration, but since then has more than doubled in weight.
Orangutans, reddish-brown primates known for their gentle temperament and intelligence, are critically endangered and only found in the wild on the Indonesian island of Sumatra and on Borneo, which is divided among Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature, which declared Borneo’s orangutans critically endangered last year, says their numbers have dropped by nearly two-thirds since the early 1970s as plantation agriculture destroyed and fragmented their forest habitat.
The Sumatran orangutan is a separate species and has been critically endangered since 2008.
Alba means ‘white’ in Latin and ‘dawn’ in Spanish and was chosen in May after thousands of suggestions were sent in from around the world.
It is also the Scottish Gaelic name for Scotland.