Baby orangutans are prized possessions on the illegal black market, where many other critically endangered species are trafficked. Aman is just one of many infant orangutans who were stolen from their mothers in the past couple of years, but his story highlights the extent of the illegal wildlife trade and the trauma that young orangutans suffer.
An infant orangutan cannot be taken from its mother without force. Mother orangutans will fight to the death to save their babies. To feed this insidious illegal trade, the mothers are almost certainly killed, often with machetes or guns. Not only are the infants traumatized and smuggled far from the forest, but the whole species is also robbed of future generations through the brutal murders of female orangutans.
Once captured by wildlife criminals, the babies are typically forced into boxes, crates, or even postage bags to be smuggled through or out of Indonesia, often to far-flung places like Thailand, the Middle East, Europe, or Singapore. Many also end up in small wooden cages, hidden away in homes across Indonesia. Owning a baby orangutan is seen as a status symbol, even though the practice is illegal in both Indonesia and Malaysia.
Regardless of where these highly intelligent beings end up, their freedom is gone forever unless they can be rescued. They are often fed the wrong food, are unable to climb or make nests in trees, and can become unwell and experience mental health issues. Some, like Aman, will carry the physical reminders of their early trauma for the rest of their lives.
Aman is missing the tops of his fingers on his left hand. His rescuers in Borneo believe his fingers were most likely hacked off while he clung to his mother as she was killed. It’s almost impossible to imagine what this young orangutan has been through in his short life: from being torn from his mother’s arms and experiencing her murder, to the pain of losing his fingers, to being shoved into a chicken coop and forced to look out at the world through wooden slats.
Lead Image Source : Alex East/Shutterstock.
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