At around 4pm on October 2, 2011, Fadilah Pendi Amat, a damar wood collector from Kasongan Village in Katingan Regency, Central Kalimantan, came to Nyaru Menteng with a small cardboard box in his hands. Inside the dirty box on top of an old blanket, lay a baby orangutan helpless, and clearly in excruciating pain. His skin was burned in several places exposing open wounds and obvious infection. His condition was heartbreaking.
Pendi told us that his friend Chen, found the baby in Takaras, a small village in the sub-regency of Mungku Baru, Palangkaraya. Situated on the edge of a forest, Takaras had recently become victim to a forest fire not far from the village. Reportedly Chen was collecting damar wood in the forest when he witnessed a fight between a wild dog and an orangutan mother. The entire body of the adult female orangutan was badly burned and she was in a very weak and vulnerable state. Tragically, she died in the fight. Concerned with the fate of her baby, Chen took him home. Three days later, Pendi walked past Chen’s hut and caught a glimpse of a baby orangutan. Knowing that he wouldn’t be able to provide the proper, much-needed care for the baby, Chen agreed to hand him over to the expertise of Nyaru Menteng.
The team at Nyaru Menteng named him Himba. Estimated to be just around 6 months old and weighing a meagre 3.3 kg, Himba suffered from a high fever and serious burns to his fragile, little body. The injuries were extensive and his fingers required surgery, which could not be done right away. He had to pass his blood tests and his condition needed to be stabilised before undergoing surgery.
It’s hard to tell what really happened to Himba and his mother, whether the fire was intentional or natural. Either way, this is testimony of the true condition of orangutan habitats. Their forests are becoming more eroded and degraded and its life and diversity are being lost from our world.
Today, Himba remains in intensive care. He is on continuous intravenous fluids and oxygen. He is also being treated with antibiotics and painkillers to ease his discomfort and promote the healing process. Himba will have to stay here for some time. The dedicated team at Nyaru Menteng is giving him the best of the best in TLC, monitoring him around the clock, patiently and lovingly….
Forest fire is an annual event during dry season. Unfortunately, a large majority of forest fires are not because of natural causes. Forests are deliberately burned by humans to clear land and make way to various developments.
You can help Himba and the many Orangutans still in need by giving a gift to the apes today.
News from BOS Foundation with thanks to Save the Orangutan.