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Jakarta Post

Sumatran orangutan released into wild after testing negative for COVID-19

  • Apriadi Gunawan

    The Jakarta Post

Medan   /   Tue, July 7, 2020   /   06:20 pm
Sumatran orangutan released into wild after testing negative for COVID-19 A Sumatran orangutan hangs on a tree branch in the Leuser Ecosystem Area in Aceh on June 20. (Antara/Syifa Yulinnas)

The North Sumatra Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) recently released a 13-year-old Sumatran Orangutan into Mount Leuser National Park in Langkat regency, North Sumatra. The animal was the first orangutan released into the wild during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Agency head Hotmauli Sianturi said the orangutan, named Maria, was released on Saturday under the strict health protocols to prevent the transmission of COVID-19.

"All the officers who were directly involved in the release had tested negative for COVID-19. Before she was released, officials from the Bogor Agricultural University (IPB) Primate Research Center tested Maria for coronavirus using a PCR test, and the result came back negative," Hotmauli told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

On June 18, the critically endangered animal was rescued by officers from the BKSDA and the Orangutan Sumatera Lestari Foundation's Information Center after she was found wandering in Bukit Mas Village, Besitang District, Langkat regency.

The officers discovered that Maria was ill and took her to Orangutan Sumatera's quarantine and rehabilitation center in Sibolangit, Deli Serdang Regency, North Sumatra.

Maria was released on Saturday after intensive treatment at the rehabilitation center.

Hotmauli said it was the fifth time Maria had been released back into the wild because she kept entering residential areas in Langkat regency. This time Maria would be released deeper in the woods in the hope that she would not return to residential areas.

North Sumatera BKSDA spokesperson Andoko Hidayat said Maria was a peculiar wild orangutan since she used to live near human residential areas.

"Even though we had released her four different times at Mount Leuser National Park, she kept coming back to residential areas, especially near farms owned by locals," Andoko said. (nal)