Orphaned baby orangutan who was captured as a 'pet' and kept in a small cage now thriving after being eased back into forests of Borneo

Written by Samantha Lade for DonateToday

PUBLISHED: 08:58, 11th Oct 2017 | UPDATED: 10:51, 5th Dec 2017

Mona is again enjoying a life of freedom in the protected area of forest, after being shut away in a small cage

A two-year-old orphaned orangutan named Mona is now thriving after being introduced back into the forests of Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo, as part of a ‘soft-release’ programme run by the Orangutan Foundation.

Mona was rescued after being discovered in a small cage, where the wild animal was being kept as a pet. The charity is unsure how or when Mona was captured, but are confident that tragically, her mother would have been slaughtered in the process of her capturing.

But thanks to the Foundation’s unique programme, Mona is now slowly learning to enjoy her freedom outdoors once again, after slowly being eased back into a protected wildlife reserve area of the Bornean forest.

The programme is small and individualised, providing crucial care for the now critically endangered species who have declined at a rate of 25% in 10 years. The Foundation cares for just 12 apes at a time to ensure they become comfortable in the protected area of forest – meaning they can be released into the wild as soon as they are ready to be independent again.

Mona is fed milk by one of the Foundation's volunteers

Other orphaned orangutans cared for on the programme include Nyunyu, who was found chained up by the neck, and Bumi, who was discovered with small bullets embedded into his body. However, it will take a couple of years until Mona, Nyunyu and Bumi are fully ready to be returned to the wild.

But as critical as the work being provided by the Orangutan Foundation remains to reintroducing these apes into the wild with the skills to survive, the charity are concerned that the real message is being missed.

In fact, the problem lies in the reasons pushing the orangutans closer to humans. The director of the Orangutan Foundation, Ashley Leiman CEO, explains: ‘Each orphaned infant we rescue represents the loss of the forest. Rescuing and caring for orphaned orangutans will never be enough. 

'The only way to halt the decline of this critically endangered species is to protect their habitat.'

Mona's rescue mission saw her freed from her 'pet's cage', although the charity are unsure of when she was captured

‘Our priority is to keep forests standing and orangutans in the wild. We need to prevent orangutan from becoming orphaned in the first place. The way to do this is to protect their habitat.’

Staff at the Foundation continue to guard the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve, a 158,000 acre forest home to 500 critically endangered orangutans, and thousands of other wild species.