World’s only known albino orangutan has been released back into the jungle after being found starving in an Indonesian village
- The world’s only known albino orangutan has been released back into the jungle
- Alba re-entered the Borneo wild after more than a year in captivity in Indonesia
- She was found starving and dehydrated in an Indonesian village last year
- Alba’s condition means she has poor sight, hearing and is at risk of skin cancer
The world’s only known albino orangutan has been released back into the Borneo jungle after she was found starving in an Indonesian village.
Alba spent more than a year in captivity getting back to a healthy weight and the Borneo Orangutan Survival foundation released her back into the wild on Wednesday.
The orangutan was named Alba, which means white in Latin, after thousands worldwide responded to an online petition.
Alba climbed trees, foraged for food and began building a nest after being released back into the jungle.
This is the moment Alba the albino orangutan is released by a conservationist of the Borneo Orangutan Survival foundation inside Bukit Baka Bukit Raya National Park in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia
The stark white fur of the albino orangutan is a stunning sight as she returns to the wilds of Borneo and swings from the trees
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Alba had to put on a lot of weight after she was found starving and dehydrated in the Indonesian village; this was her in May 2017 in the early stages of her rehabilitation
Alba hooks her fingers through the cage as experts prepare to release her after more than a year in captivity
She was rescued in April last year and was rehabilitated alongside another orangutan called Kika who was released with her.
The apes were freed inside Bukit Baka Bukit Raya National Park after a more than 24-hour journey from their rehabilitation center by vehicle, boat and hiking.
The foundation originally planned to create a 5-hectare (12-acre) ‘forest island’ for Alba rather than a release into truly natural habitat because of health issues related to her albinism including poor sight and hearing and the possibility of skin cancer.
This was Alba in May 2017 while undergoing rehabilitation at the Borneo Orangutan Survival foundation
Alba swings from the trees in the Borneo rain forest after a journey which took more than 24 hours from the conservation centre on the Indonesian mainland
But the government’s Natural Resources Conservation Agency and other agencies decided it was appropriate to release Alba into the wild because of her strong physical condition and intrinsically wild behavior.
She will be electronically tracked and regularly monitored by a medical team.
‘Alba has no inferiority complex as we imagined before. She is very confident compared to other orangutans,’ said veterinarian Agus Fathoni.
‘I think the real threat actually comes from humans. What we’re worried about is poaching where this very special condition makes her a target,’ he told The Associated Press.
Patrols of Alba’s new home by national park and conservation agency staff will aim to deter poachers, though they admit the number of personnel is limited.
Alba can be seen making her first tracks back into the jungle and she was observed climbing trees, foraging food and building a nest after her release
Alba springs from her cage after being released onto the Borneo jungle floor by a conservation expert
‘We don’t have enough to cover all the area of the national park but we’re confident of covering all the patrol lines that we have set,’ said national park official Wirasadi Nursubhi
Orangutans, reddish-brown primates known for their gentle temperament and intelligence, are critically endangered and only found in the wild on the Indonesian island of Sumatra and on Borneo, which is divided among Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature, which declared Borneo’s orangutans critically endangered in 2016, says their numbers have dropped by nearly two-thirds since the early 1970s as plantation agriculture destroyed and fragmented their forest habitat.
The Sumatran orangutan is a separate species and has been critically endangered since 2008.
Alba can be seen in the back of a truck as she is transported deep into the Borneo jungle after a year of rehabilitation in captivity
Alba the albino oragutan gazes out at the jungle as experts prepare to release her into the Bukit Baka Bukit Raya National Park in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia
Alba, approximately five years old, was given final medical tests and anesthetized for the journey to Bukit Baka Bukit Raya.
Workers shouted ‘Alba’s going home’ as her cage was lifted onto a truck at the Nyaru Menteng Rehabilitation Center in Central Kalimantan province on Borneo.
‘It’s true this is a big gamble but we hope that with our collaboration we will win the big bet we have made today’ said the orangutan foundation’s chief executive Jamartin Sihite after releasing Alba from her cage.
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