Ten orangutans were rafted and released to their natural habitats on the Indonesian island of Borneo, in the first of its kind a year ago due to the pandemic that also threatens these primates.
The great monkeys were transported by air early this month over the dense jungles of Borneo, in order to avoid the burden of traveling on the usual long path by sea and land, which exposes them to the risk of infection with the Corona virus.
These monkeys share 97% of their DNA with humans, and wildlife protection organizations have been alerted to detect any sign of infection.
“For a whole year, we have not been able to release orangotan monkeys into nature because of the epidemic,” said Jamartan, an official at the Orang Utan Monkey Conservation Foundation in Borneo.
“We have adopted a strict health protocol and put in place plans to follow them in the event of an Orang Utan monkey infection. The use of a raft … reduces the risk of spreading Covid-19 infection,” he added.
The ten monkeys, after being injected with sedatives, were transported in cages specially restored for the operation.
After the raft landed, the monkeys were transported on a ship on a short voyage before reaching its destination, the Bukit Batikap Reserve in Central Kalimantan Province.
Illegal fishing and the loss of their natural habitats caused a significant decline in the number of orangutans in Indonesia, before the Corona virus posed a new threat to them.
“If the Orang Utan monkey shows signs of respiratory difficulties, it may be infected with Covid-19,” said veterinarian Vivi Doi Santi, who works with the foundation.
“If crew members are found to be infected … we try to trace their cases to find out the monkeys they were in contact with,” he added.