Borneo:Orangutan Survival in times of Deforestation

A few days ago I was playing with Ucun in the nursery forest. He was
full of life, making his way to me as soon as I appeared. Settling in
my lap and playing endlessly with my hands and feet and begging for
tickles by showing me precisely where to tickle him. He squeezed my
nose, I am sure expecting it to squeak like so many of the soft toys
the babies have. He gently touched my eyelashes, sucked on my chin,
and and clutched at my curls. I wrote just one sentence about him:
“Ucun now seems to be my best friend in Nursery.”Today, Ucun began his
third day of seriously high fever. Now on an IV as well as oxygen,
head babysitter Yati tried to bring down his fever with cold water
compresses. I’d been asked to take some photos of some of the others
in nursery, and being my last day at the project, I knew this had to
be done. I left Ucun with Yati and a second babysitter and went to
nursery forest to photograph the charming antics of the likes of Diego
and Pickle. It was raining hard outside, so the whole group was in,
and we had got out loads of toys that squeaked and rattled and sang,
and Kle was doing his best to beat them all unconscious. Pista used a
towel to dress up as Mother Theresa, and Nita sucked on the ears of a
toy elephant. The 2 babysitters with me were so good with the
orangutans, and gave them so much love and attention. Silence
descended on the room, as each of us looked at the other. Indonesians
seldom cry in front of others.

But tears welled up in the eyes of
Hanni and both the babysitters. The babies played on, not noticing the
despair, as we wiped our eyes.The doctor carried Ucun’s body back to
the clinic in a sarang, and Hanni invited me to see Ucun one last
time. She also let babysitter Dewi know that Ucun’s body had arrived
from nursery. Dewi was Ucun’s favourite babysitter, and Ucun was
Dewi’s favourite baby. In the moments before we stepped into the
autopsy room, Dewi and I embraced, and she broke down, “I have known
Ucun since he was the tiniest baby. He is so precious.”Ucun’s body was
lifted from the deep freeze, onto the table, and Dewi gently unwrapped
the sarong from the still body. He looked perfect. His eyes were open
and his mouth slightly opened, and his body looked relaxed. He hadn’t
died in seizure. He wasn’t blue…he was just the colour he should
have been, just the colour he had been hours before. He was only
slightly cool to the touch and his skin so soft like velvet. And it
all seemed so very, very wrong. We said goodbye to Ucun, Dewi wrapped
him up again, cradled his lifeless body in her arms and kissed his
head before handing him back to the doctor. And now, as I write, the
tears run down my face and I can find no words to describe the loss
and pain when someone so innocent and young should suffer and die. All
I can do is write what happened, and hope that someone out there will
read this and understand and care, and agree that it is so very, very
wrong. — Michelle Desilets, International Campaigns Director Borneo
Orangutan Survival International

Posted via email from Deane’s posterous

Comments (1)

ForestPolicy (ForestPolicy)December 13th, 2008 at 10:52 pm

Borneo:Orangutan Survival in times of Deforestation

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