Stunning moment world's ONLY albino orangutan is released into wild

Daily Express :: Nature Feed
Stunning moment world's ONLY albino orangutan is released into wild

Alba the snowy-haired great ape showed she had lost none of her wild instincts as she took to the trees with a spectacular series of swings. The sight of her clambering in the forest canopy was a jubilant moment for conservation workers who had helped the six year old critically endangered creature to return to the lands of her forebears. Looking down from dense foliage, Alba soon revealed how she had been nursed back to full health after 18 months’ specialist care and was ready to go wild.

Eighteen months ago Alba made global headlines when she was rescued in Borneo’s Central Kalimantan region, suffering from stress, dehydration and parasite infection. With a poor appetite, it took intensive veterinary care at the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation’s rehabilitation centre to recover, but soon she began to not only display her socialisation and climbing skills but also struck up a close bond with another flame-haired, rescue female called Kika.

This week the red and white apes began a long journey by boat and over land so they could be released together in the Bukit Baka Bukit Raya National Park and “start the new chapter in their lives as truly wild orangutans”.

While Kika has always shown a firm dislike for humans, Alba looked at ease as she was first loaded into her special travelling crate and then transported over 16-hours to the remote release zone. 

Dark skies and heavy rains dogged the journey, with the lorry carrying the orangutans becoming stuck and needing winching on the slippery, muddy tracks.  

Video footage shows Alba remained content throughout, reaching out towards the camera as well as feeding herself leaves when their small boat meandered on the last leg of the journey to freedom.

Finally, when both orangutans reached their destination they were ceremonially released with the lifting of cage doors, BOS Foundation chief executive Dr Jamartin Sihite having the honour of returning Alba to the forest.

A BOS Foundation spokesman said: “Alba slowly exited her cage and took in her new surroundings, moving cautiously. However, once she realised that humans were present, she quickly moved away into the forest and climbed up a tree. She brachiated (swung from branch to branch) for a while, showing us her familiarity with a wild environment. She finally stopped to rest on a large branch, high up in the forest canopy. This is just the beginning of Alba’s adventures to come in this true, wild forest.”

Alba and Kika’s successful return marks the 386th release by the BOS Foundation since 2012. Over the next six months, the pair will be monitored closely by experts from dawn to dusk, with their adaptation progress and behaviour observed.

The BOS Foundation spokesman added: “The first and second days of post-release observations have confirmed that Alba is actively moving in the forest canopy, typically at a height of more than 35 meters from the forest floor.

“However, the team must continue their intensive monitoring to find out if she can truly adapt to the forest, and they are prepared to intervene and rescue her in coordination with the authorities if they feel that her life is in danger at any point.”

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