Wild orangutans to watch film about orangutans

Jeremy Hance
February 22, 2012

Orphaned Bornean orangutan in the Indonesian state of Kalimantan on the island of Borneo. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Orphaned Bornean orangutan in the Indonesian state of Kalimantan on the island of Borneo. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

Born to be Wild 3D, an IMAX documentary in part about the plight of orphaned and injured Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus), will soon be aired in the rainforest that inspired it. Producer Drew Fellman is setting up a screen in the rainforest to screen the film for orphaned orangutans.

"They came to be like members of the crew," Fellman told the Associated Press.

The film follows the work of primatologist Birute Mary Galdikas to rehabilitate orangutans who have been the victims of deforestation and human-wildlife conflict. Orangutans are sometimes killed as pests in agricultural areas, such as palm oil plantations, leaving a glut of orphaned apes on the island of Borneo. Galdikas' center houses around 300 orangutans.

"It helps raise awareness," Galdikas, founder of Orangutan Foundation International (OFI), told the Associated Press. "The average person in Indonesia still doesn't yet understand the orangutan is a close relative and that they are a protected species and on the verge of extinction."

The film also follows the work of Daphne Sheldrick rehabilitating African bush elephant (Loxodonta africana) orphans in Kenya, who have lost their parents to poaching for ivory.

Listed as Endangered by the IUCN Red List, Bornean orangutans are most threatened by habitat loss to palm oil, intense logging, and fires. Killing as pests and hunting for meat also poses significant challenges. Between 2000 and 2003 researchers estimated a total number of 45,000 to 69,000 Bornean orangutans left in the wild, however that number has almost certainly declined since then.

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Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com (February 22, 2012).

Wild orangutans to watch film about orangutans.