The job of caring for around 120 orangutans and 70 sun bears is a huge challenge – moreover, amid a pandemic. Yet, our veterinary team at the Samboja Lestari Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in East Kalimantan keeps up their amazing work and continues to strive forward.
As the global pandemic persists well beyond the 12-month mark, the Samboja Lestari veterinary team, consisting of four veterinarians and three clinic technicians, follows a routine, daily schedule. In light of the pandemic, this schedule was adjusted so that team members could work to a shift of two days on and two days off. These changes have kept our team members busy and helped us keep centre operations going.
Every morning, our veterinary team members get dressed in full PPE (personal protective equipment) before conducting their routine tasks close to orangutans. One veterinarian will regularly visit the Forest School areas, the Special Care Unit, and the Sun Bear Sanctuary, while the other will visit the individual enclosures and socialisation complexes.
During their visits, the veterinarians conduct individual examinations to look for signs of orangutans falling ill, harbouring injuries, or requiring treatment for other ailments. Assisted by clinical technicians, our veterinarians also provide nebuliser treatment for orangutans who are suffering from Orangutan Respiratory Disease Syndrome (ORDS), a distressing condition that can be fatal.
After completing a visit, our veterinary team will then examine faecal samples from orangutans and sun bears. These examinations, which are reported monthly, indicate each individual’s health condition and reveal several illnesses, such as worm infections. Orangutans can suffer from different infections caused by hookworm or roundworm (Strongyloides) or can contract digestive infections caused by Balantidium bacteria. When our veterinary team finds that an orangutan is suffering from any of these conditions, they take immediate action.
These daily activities are in addition to one-off surgical procedures required when medical intervention is needed to ensure that every animal under our care is comfortable and healthy. These can vary from caring for physical ailments to preparing orangutans for their release. The latter includes a final health check and disease tests. One thing is for sure: Our veterinarians never find themselves wanting for activities.
While we certainly have a lot to do, we see every day as an opportunity to continue our work towards a better future for wildlife and humans in Borneo. We hope that you, too, join in our movement to preserve orangutans and their habitat!