One of the things I can never and will never get used to is man’s inhumanity to other species. In particular the primates that are so closely linked by DNA to us. Know that the abuse of those powerless to protect themselves affects me deeply.
You see people advocating saving humans in favour of other species in dire straits. It is the moral dilemma question and it doesn’t matter how you answer it, you don’t feel comfortable. At least I don’t.
There are 7 billion humans on the planet at the moment and the dwindling number of other primates is solely down to our behaviour in relation to the planet we inhabit with them. There are an estimated 20,000 orangutans left in Indonesia and Borneo.
No one would really deny we are a rapacious species and extremely self centred. We don’t give much, If any, concern to the other species which attempt to share this planet. And if they get in our way, watch out. Extinction will be the end game. Theirs and ultimately, ours.
We dig up as much ground as we are able in order to remove all manner of fuels, metals and dangerous substances. We then pollute our atmosphere by processing these materials while leaving enormous scars on the surface of the planet.
We eat all available foodstuffs while tearing down hitherto ‘unused’ habitat to engage in more food stuff production to the detriment of every other species making a living in that habitat. In fact we eat so much that species’ stocks are depleted in the seas, in the wild and in the air.
We breed without restraint or thought for future generations while taking up more and more available space to build shelters for our burgeoning human population.
In the meantime, we imprison (for status) other primates and then neglect or deliberately mistreat them. Some zoos are appalling displays of inhumanity while others try to emulate a life in which endangered species may feel secure enough to breed.
This story came onto the Mirror in the UK. Now I know this paper is more a tabloid than a newspaper and I have found that over 60,000 complaints came in from readers condemning the incarceration of the featured Orang-utans. The complaints were directed to the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment Ministry in Malaysia. This link is to an article about the Melaka Zoo.
The first photo is horrific:
The second one indicates some rehabilitation. These photos are by Sean Whyte who was moved to write this book: The Ape Crusaders.
There is a terrific orangutan rescue centre that was featured on the Eden TV channel (I think). The series detailed what was done at the centre which is located in West Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. The number of baby orangutans brought into the centre because their mothers had been killed by forestry and other workers is alarming. Some scenes were pretty hard to sit through, I have to admit.
Talk about familiarity breeding contempt. And greed for palm oil plantation land is leading the charge.
The Indonesians have lived with orangutans for so long that they have become nonentities and most certainly do not feature as our cousins but more as food. And now the Indonesians want the forest habitat for palm oil production. So basically, it is extinction time for the orangutans.
“There have been 125,000 protected orangutans killed, captured or sold into the illegal wildlife trade over the past 40 years without a single prosecution.” from a story in another tabloid: the Sun.
These great apes are known to be friendly, intelligent and personable. They used to be mainly fruit eaters but their habitat is not affording them the amount of food their populations need and there are stories about the orangutans having to resort to killing and eating the slow loris. I don’t know how common this is. There are rescue centres for the slow loris as well as other endangered species.
There is any number of rescue organisations and here’s one called the Centre for Orangutan Protection.
I may be a squishy person about animals – well, I know I am – but I defy anyone who has an ounce of compassion to look into the eyes of this baby orangutan and not see ourselves.
- Vegetarian orang-utans eat world’s cutest animal (newscientist.com)
- Humans killing at least 750 Bornean orang-utans a year (newscientist.com)