An endangered orangutan was blinded after being shot at least 74 times with an air gun just a week after her baby died because she could no longer feed it, an official and veterinarian said Monday.
Rescue workers discovered the 30-year-old primate, which they named Hope, curled up on the forest floor in Indonesia’s Aceh province on March 9.
An X-ray showed at least 74 air gun pellets in the animal’s body, including four in its left eyes and two in the right, said Yenny Saraswati, a veterinarian with the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program (SOCP).
Veterinarians and volunteers of Sumatra Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP) tend to a female orangutan they named ‘Hope’ after conducting a surgery for infections in some parts of the body and to fix broken bones in North Sumatra, Indonesia
She said the orangutan was blinded by the ‘savage attack’ and also had several open wounds believed to have been caused by sharp objects, broken brones, cuts and bruises.
She had been repeatedly shot with metal pellets by cruel thugs in an unprovoked attack.
Saraswati said Hope underwent surgery on Sunday to repair a broken collarbone and was recovering.
A veterinarian says the endangered orangutan that had a young baby has gone blind after being shot at least 74 times, including six in the eyes, with air gun
An x-ray taken by vets in Indonesia shows the metal pellets which had been fired into the majestic primate with an air rifle
Conflicts between orangutans and people have increased as the palm oil, logging and paper industries shrink the animals’ jungle habitat.
Villagers spotted the severely wounded orangutan in a farm in Aceh province’s Subulussalam district last week with its month-old baby son slumped by her side, severely dehydrated after being unable to fend for himself.
He was suffering from critical malnutrition, said Sapto Aji Prabowo, who heads the Aceh provincial conservation agency.
The baby died from malnutrition as rescuers rushed the two animals to an orangutan veterinary clinic in neighboring North Sumatra province’s Sibolangit district.
Prabowo said: ‘Truly barbaric are those people who tortured them. The orangutan is currently in the care of the BKSDA.’
Hope’s one-month-old baby was severely malnourished and dehydrated when rescuers found them and succumbed to illness before he could be saved
Volunteer orthopedic surgeon Andreas Messikommer of Switzerland conducts a surgery on a Hope after her baby orangutan died from malnutrition last Friday
Government officials are now hunting those behind the senseless attack, which has left the mother too wounded to return back to the wild.
‘Hopefully Hope can pass this critical period, but she cannot be released to the wild anymore,’ Saraswati said, adding that during the operation they did not remove any of the air gun pellets because they had to prioritize fixing the animal’s broken collarbone and the risk of infection that it posed.
The orangutan conservation program said the use of readily available air guns to shoot and kill wildlife, including orangutans, is a major problem in Indonesia.
SOCP vets and volunteers were also tending to a three-month old baby orangutan named Brenda that was evacuated from a village with a broken arm and required surgery.
A veterinarian and a volunteer of Sumatra Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP) tend to a three-month old baby orangutan named ‘Brenda’ that was evacuated from a village with a broken arm
The X-ray image of a three-month old baby orangutan named ‘Brenda’ who has undergone surgery for a broken arm
The organisation said in the last 10 years, it has treated more than 15 orangutans with a total of nearly 500 air gun pellets in their bodies.
Last year, an orangutan in the Indonesian part of Borneo died after being shot at least 130 times with an air gun, the second known killing of an orangutan that year.
A 2018 comprehensive study of Borneo’s orangutans estimates that their numbers have plummeted by more than 100,000 since 1999, as the palm oil and paper industries shrink their habitat and fatal conflicts with people increase.
Only around 13,400 Sumatran orangutans remain in the wild. The species is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
Conservationists predicted that without immediate action, orangutans are likely to be the first great ape to become extinct in the wild.
The Forestry and Environment Ministry said in a statement: ‘We condemn the savage attack on orangutans carried out by irresponsible people.’
Hope receiving treatment at the veterinary clinic in North Sumatra after she was left with broken bones, lacerations and 74 pellets which had been fired into her
The 30-year-old primate is being held at the rehabilitation as she continues her recovery without her newborn
Air rifle bullets littered Hope’s body from the top chest and head (left) down to her pelvis and legs (right)