Published October 27, 2012
JAKARTA, Indonesia – An orangutan that was shot with an air rifle has been rescued in the Indonesian part of Borneo, and rescuers are working to remove 104 pellets from her body, a conservationist said Saturday.
The wounded female ape was discovered this month on a palm oil plantation in Central Kalimantan province, according to Tigor Nainggolan, a manager with the British-based Orangutan Foundation.
It's not known who shot the orangutan, believed to be about 15 years old.
Nainggolan said veterinarians managed to remove 32 of the pellets lodged in her body and head during a three-hour surgery on Oct. 20 at a hospital in the town of Pangkalan Bun, where an X-ray found 37 bullets in her head and 67 others in the body.
He added that another operation will be performed depending on her condition.
The ape, named Aan, was blinded in her left eye by the pellets.
Indonesia is home to about 90 percent of the orangutans left in the wild, but half its plush rain forest been cleared in the past half-century in the rush to supply the world with timber, pulp, paper and more recently, palm oil.
As a result, most of the remaining 50,000 to 60,000 apes live in scattered, degraded forests, putting them in frequent, and often deadly, conflict with humans.
A survey last year by the Nature Conservancy and 19 other private organizations, including the WWF and the Association of Indonesian Primate Experts and Observers, found that villagers living on the Indonesian side of Borneo killed at least 750 endangered orangutans in a year, some to protect crops from being raided and others for their meat.