The World Wildlife Fund on Thursday lamented the death of an orangutan that suffered burns in West Kalimantan, with activists saying the condition of the endangered animal had been improving.
“The WWF is sad and regrets it. It should not have happened,” WWF-Indonesia conservation coordinator Chaerul Saleh said in Jakarta.
Chaerul said the male orangutan, aged 16 or 17 years old, was expected to recover as soon as it was moved to the International Rescue, Rehabilitation and Conservation Center in Ketapang district.
The orangutan sustained burns after residents tried to drive him out of their plantation area on Sunday. Residents had sought help from the local Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) to tranquilize the animal but it escaped. The residents then fumigated the coconut tree where the ape was hiding, but the tree caught fire.
West Kalimantan WWF coordinator Hermayani Putra said she was saddened by the ape’s death but they had done everything they could to save him.
“The orangutan died at 10:30 p.m. and the joint team has decided to take him to Pontianak for an autopsy,” Hermayani said.
Hermayani said a veterinarian told her the burns sustained by the orangutan weren’t very serious but dehydration and stress could have led to the animal’s death.
“His condition was improving yesterday afternoon. But to determine the exact cause of death of the orangutan, an autopsy will be conducted,” she said.
Hermayani added that the WWF would launch an investigation to find out what drove the animal out of its habitat and into the plantation.
The population of orangutans continues to decline as more and more of their habitat is destroyed to make way for new plantation areas or illegal logging. The population of orangutans in the Kalimantan provinces is estimated at 50,000.
Music group Sidepony on Wednesday held a “Save” orangutan concert in Pontianak, West Kalimantan, and wrote a song called “On the Brink of Extinction.”
“We wrote the song to raise the public’s awareness about the need to protect orangutans, to prevent them from becoming extinct,” said the group’s frontman, Dian. “One of the ways of doing this is by protecting them from illegal logging and [forest] burning.”
Bassist Bian said the idea to hold the concert came from news reports they saw every year about orangutans being hunted.
“We will donate the proceeds to the West Kalimantan Natural Resources Conservation Agency to prevent orangutans in West Kalimantan and Kalimantan in general from being hunted,” Bian said.