This is the first operation of its kind organized for a year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic which also threatens these primates. Wildlife protection organizations have therefore been on alert for any sign of infection.
Ten orangutans were transported by helicopter and released to their natural habitat on the island of Borneo in Indonesia. This is the first operation of its kind organized for a year, due to the coronavirus pandemic which also threatens these primates.
The great apes flew over the thick jungle of Borneo at the beginning of February, in order to avoid them the usual long journey by sea and road, which would have exposed them to be contaminated by Covid-19. These primates share 97% of their DNA with humans and wildlife protection organizations have therefore been on the alert for any sign of infection.
Reduce the risk of spread
“For a whole year, we were unable to release orangutans into the wild due to the pandemic,” explained Jamartin Sihite, head of the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation – BOSF). The ten monkeys, under tranquilizers, were transported in specially equipped cages.
“We applied a strict sanitary protocol, and planned plans to be implemented in the event of an orangutan infection. Using a helicopter helps reduce the risk of the spread of Covid-19 ”, developed Jamartin Sihite. One of the orangutans, no doubt intrigued by the situation, shook one of the bars of his cage.
After the device landed, the monkeys were transferred to a boat for a short crossing before arriving at their destination: the protected forest area of Bukit Batikap, in the province of Central Kalimantan, where they settled. to swing from vine to vine.
Poaching and the loss of their natural habitat decimated Indonesia’s orangutan population, before a potential new danger in the form of the coronavirus emerged. “If an orangutan is showing signs of difficulty breathing, it is possible that he has been infected with Covid-19,” explains Vivi Dwi Santi, a veterinarian who works with the Foundation. “And if any staff members test positive … we’ll try to trace which orangutans have been in contact with them,” the vet continues.
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