In late 2019 after massive fires engulfed the Indonesian island of Borneo, countless orangutans were displaced as they fled fires that destroyed their homes. Among them was a young orangutan mother, later named Epen.
Epen was found in a West Borneo forest near a local farm. When rescued, shot wounds were found on her body. Epen was also lactating which led to believe that she had recently given birth. If in fact there was a baby, it was never found, leading rescuers to believe the baby may have been lost or taken during the shooting.
Epen was treated for her wounds and in February 2020 was released back to the wild. While Epen’s account does end in a hopeful note, many orangutans in Borneo did not enjoy the same fate.
Habitat loss and poaching have driven the Bornean orangutan to the brink of extinction. These great apes have been living in increasingly fragmented patches of forest, with over 80% of the remaining population living outside conservation areas, exposed to illegal poaching, and habitat loss due to fires.
With a little help, we hope that the orangutan population can still have a chance at bouncing back, it’s up to each and every one of us to make a difference.