The AMAZING Story of Pelangsi


We received a telephone call. Somebody
wanted us to rescue an orangutan. We got ready, I mean we are always ready 24
hours for rescues. They were saying that an orangutan might have been trapped in
a snare. So we leave the village with some other locals to try to find this
orangutan. At this stage I don’t really know whether the orangutan is going to
be dead or alive. We are getting close to where the animal is and somebody says
“hey look the orangutan is there!”. So I see an orangutan, it’s about 11 years old,
it’s still alive and it’s vocalizing but I can see that it is trapped, it’s trapped on
a snare and he cannot free himself. So we are getting a little bit closer and I
realised that the hand is already rotten because of the snare. It was quite
shocking to see it as we were getting closer the orangutan who was all the
time trying to release himself and pulling the hand, so we very quickly
decide to sedate the orangutan and we start getting everything ready for the
sedation. We walk as fast as possible back to the
village and when we arrived there was already a crowd of people waiting for
us. At that moment is when I see the guy who had put the traps and I approached
him and I tell him really hope that you realise how bad it is to put traps and then he he says “I feel quite guilty, I didn’t want to trap an orangutan. I’m
looking for bears and wild boars but this is exactly the reason why traps are
so bad because any animal can get trapped on them. We decide not to lose
any more time and get back to Ketapang as soon as possible. We arrive in our clinic in Ketapang. The
the first thing we do is to clean the wound, put another IV line and we start on a
lot of antibiotics. The following morning when I arrived in the clinic I can see
that the orangutan is collapsing. It’s been a very long time with this very bad
infection, his blood pressure is going down we don’t think that we can save the orangutan at this stage. We continue the intensive care for
another 24 hours. These 48 hours were really critical. It’s about a third day
when the animal is still alive is quite stable.
We had to control how much level of anesthesia we were giving him so we
could allow him to have a level of consciousness that he could actually when we
prepare the food he could actually just sit down on the table and we could
feed him ourselves. It’s a wild orangutan that is being fed by us, he is receiving
food from us. Vet: Good boy! In a normal condition, he is a wild
orangutan, he will never allow any human to be around him. I don’t know, I think maybe
this is the survival instinct you know, this
orangutan really wanted to survive. We continue feeding him for about two more
weeks. Every day he’s doing a little bit better. Then we decided
that we are gonna give him a name, and we decide to name him after the village
where he was found, Pelangsi. We moved him to a cage because his condition is
already much better. I knew that we had to amputate the hand
of this orangutan, but it’s only now when we realize that this is actually the
time that we have to start preparing for it. For that we call Dr. Paulo Martelli, who
comes from Hong Kong, to help us with surgery. If the arm can heal well, the
chances for him to be able to be released are much higher. We know that we
have to continue the treatment for at least six months more and it is during
this period of time we have to carry out routine checkups, so we have to sedate
Pelangsi and take radiographs and control the wound. The condition of Pelangsi was improving
very quickly. It was amazing to see how even with one arm, he was climbing
in the cage, everything was indicating that the improvement was good, and under this condition, every day was a little bit better. This is the time
that we can actually think of releasing Pelangsi. For the release we have to
carry out a behavioural assessment. We have to find a location that is suitable for
the release of Pelangsi. We decide to carry out habitat surveys in Pematang Gadung forest. We are hoping that with this release project, we can also raise
awareness about this forest to get it protected. It’s been already eight months,
Pelangsi has been all this time in a cage. He started to look like a captive
orangutan, not interested in life. If we wait too much longer,
maybe Pelangsi is not going to be able to be released. Everything is ready
for the release, we meet up at the centre at 3:00 in the morning. We put a
microchip, so that we can at some some point, we find him again, we can
still identify him, and then we just put him in the transport cage, and wait for
him to wake up. Pelangsi is waking up so it’s the moment we can start going. We arrived at IAR camp in Pematang Gadung
forest, where the team is waiting for us. It’s very difficult, the access, we have
to put the cage in a small boat. Pelangsi is amazing. He’s been so quiet!
He’s been so, I don’t know when I look at him, and you know, he’s just like, he
was understanding that he’s being taken to the release site. He drank the whole
bottle of water. It was a very special moment because it was
the last moment I could still be with him. We opened the case, and Pelansi
just left the cage. He climbed up the first tree. At some point he stopped, he
looked at us. Some people were saying yeah he’s looking at us to say thank you
you know, I don’t know maybe he was saying thank you, or maybe he was saying
“yeah I had enough of you, finally I’m free again!”. Moving like a wild orangutan
like he had never had an amputated arm. He started vocalizing, and that moment was amazing. And it is the moment that we all have
been waiting for so long, you know, finally Pelangsi is free again!

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