Rare albino orangutan rescued on Borneo island

The rare albino orangutan that was saved from villagers in Kapuas Hulu, Indonesia. (Handout, Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation via AFP)
The rare albino orangutan that was saved from villagers in Kapuas Hulu, Indonesia. (Handout, Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation via AFP)

Palangkaraya - A rare albino orangutan has been rescued on the Indonesian part of Borneo island where villagers were keeping the white-haired, blue-eyed creature in a cage, a protection group said on Tuesday.

In an extremely unusual discovery, authorities picked up the female, estimated to be five years old, in a remote village in Kapuas Hulu district.

The Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF), which is caring for the critically endangered ape - believed to be albino - said the organisation had never before in its 25-year history taken in such an orangutan.

Normal Bornean orangutans have reddish-brown hair.

Villagers said they captured the ape - who has not yet been named - on Thursday. Authorities rescued the ape two days later.

"Orangutans are rare, and an albino orangutan is even rarer," Nico Hermanu, a BOSF spokesperson, told AFP.

"Since BOSF was founded 25 years ago, we had never before taken in an albino orangutan at our rehabilitation centre."

Pictures showed dried blood around the creature's nose, with the foundation saying the injury could have been sustained when the ape was fighting the villagers' attempts to capture it.

The orangutan has been taken to BOSF's rehabilitation centre for further assessment. Almost 500 orangutans are kept at the centre.

The Bornean orangutan, which along with the Sumatran orangutan are Asia's only great apes, is classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as "critically endangered" - just one step away from extinction.

Around 100 000 are estimated to live on Borneo, which is divided between Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia, down from 288 500 in 1973 and with their numbers expected to shrink to 47 000 by 2025, according to the IUCN.

The creatures have seen their habitat shrink dramatically as the island's rain forests are increasingly turned into oil palm, rubber or paper plantations, and are sometimes targeted by villagers who view them as pests.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
When assisting your child with remote learning this year, did you:
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Follow the school's comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) curriculum?
13% - 118 votes
Adjust the CSE curriculum to suit the family's morals?
24% - 216 votes
Ignore the schools CSE programme and do your own teaching?
63% - 565 votes
Vote
ZAR/USD
15.25
(-0.09)
ZAR/GBP
20.29
(-0.13)
ZAR/EUR
18.23
(-0.16)
ZAR/AUD
11.25
(-0.20)
ZAR/JPY
0.15
(-0.04)
Gold
1787.51
(+0.09)
Silver
22.67
(+0.11)
Platinum
965.22
(+0.30)
Brent Crude
48.27
(+0.96)
Palladium
2413.01
(+0.60)
All Share
57822.50
(-0.17)
Top 40
53021.58
(-0.12)
Financial 15
11577.71
(-0.58)
Industrial 25
79894.95
(-0.12)
Resource 10
52804.55
(+0.03)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo