Beaten into submission

Posted on April 11, 2011

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The last moments alive for a mother tortured....unable to comfort her traumatised infant

It’s an image that would stir emotion in even the most hardened of hearts. What on earth would possess someone to do this to another living organism?

This photograph was printed in yesterday’s UK newspaper News of the World, and is a clear example of man’s capacity to harm in the most primitive way. I thought we were the primates with the greater intelligence? It beggars belief and is heart-breaking!

Human, wildlife conflict is a growing concern for conservationists in the field. As natural habitats shrink as a result of anthropogenic activities, the problem is exacerbated and endangered species are viewed as pests by local people, when they start to encroach onto private land.

According to the Sussex-based charity International Animal Rescue (IAR), the starving mother and baby had been spotted in the village of Peniraman in Indonesia, after there was a landslide in the surrounding area. She was scavenging for food to feed her infant; but her appearance in the village was far from welcomed.

The charity says the forest surrounding the village has been converted into palm oil plantations and any small patches of remaining woodland are occupied by people. Forests are the last viable habitats for the orangutan species, but fragmented forests cannot support these arboreal great apes sufficiently and they are forced to the ground to look for food elsewhere.

A team from IAR says it witnessed unspeakable cruelty towards this pair before help arrived.

Vet Karmele Llono- Sanchez told the newspaper: “They laid into the mother with sticks until she fell on the ground, then tied her arms and legs with rope.

“As the mob tried to drag her off she fought back to save her screeching baby. So villagers threw a net over them, wrenched the little one away and tied her up too.

“Then they hauled the mother into a swimming pool and held her under till she passed out.

“They then dragged her into the makeshift cage. She was just about still alive but could barely sit up as they tossed baby Peni in with her.

“At that point the crowd grew restless again, yelling and poking the animals with sticks – luckily it was then that one of my colleagues arrived at the scene and managed to stop the torture.”

The infant, Peni survived, the mother died 15 minutes later en route to getting treatment.

Peni is now nine months old and is still recovering from her trauma. She’ll stay at IAR’s rehab centre in Ketapang until a decision can be made on whether she’ll be fit and able to fend for herself  if released back into the wild.

According to the United Nations, the natural forests of Sumatra and Borneo are being cleared so fast, up to 98 per cent may be destroyed by 2022.  These palm oil plantations cause enormous and often irreversible damage to the natural environment through cutting down and burning tropical rainforests. There is approximately 300-700 million hectares of abandoned land globally that can potentially be used for oil palm plantations instead of virgin rainforest; 20 million hectares in Indonesia alone.

A spokesman for IAR said: “There are still seven remaining orangutans living in unsuitable forests surrounding the village of Peniraman where this tragedy took place, including the male who came down to the village with the mother and Peni. IAR’s team is committed to doing everything they can to rescue and translocate all these orangutans as soon as they can raise sufficient funds to do so.”

If you would like to help, stop using products that contain palm oil. Donations to the charity IAR can be made by visiting its website.

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