JAKARTA – Young orang utan Utu clings to one of his rescuers as he is freed from the tiny wooden cage that has been home for five years.
The tiny primate, covered in fuzzy auburn hair, is one of three Bornean orang utans saved in Indonesia over the past two weeks.
Environmentalists and local officials rescued Utu and another youngster, Joy, from tiny 1.5m by 1m cages, where they were kept as house pets in West Kalimantan on the island of Borneo.
A third orang utan named Tomang was moved from a village in the same province where he had been raiding fruit trees, angering villagers.
Joy and Utu will now spend years learning to fend for themselves before being released into the wild, while Tomang has been set free into Gunung Palung National Park.
The rescues are a rare spot of bright news for the critically endangered species, after a string of fatal attacks on the apes that have been blamed on farmers and hunters.
Four Indonesian men were arrested over the killing of an orang utan shot some 130 times with an air rifle in February.
Police also arrested two plantation workers and accused them of shooting an orang utan multiple times before decapitating it.
Plantation workers and villagers are known to attack an animal they see as a pest, while poachers also capture them to sell as pets.
A video of an orang utan puffing on a cigarette flicked into its zoo enclosure by a visitor this month highlighted Indonesia’s abysmal record of animal protection. — AFP