Distressed Blind Orangutan Found Riddled With 24 Air Rifle Pellets, Including 16 In His Head

Distressed Blind Orangutan Found Riddled With 24 Air Rifle Pellets, Including 16 In His Head

Rescuers who found Paguh believe that he was injured by poachers. After removing 3 pellets, vets announced that his condition was stable on Thursday.

Trigger warning: This story contains descriptions of animal abuse.

A blind orangutan that was found riddled with 24 air rifles pellets is currently in a stable condition after a team of veterinarians successfully removed three pellets from his head. The male orangutan was discovered in a state of distress last week, by a Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) team in Gampong Teungoh in South Aceh Regency, Aceh, reports The Jakarta Post. The rescue team, who named the orangutan Paguh, speculated that his suffering was a result of an attack by poachers. An update on Paguh's condition was made on Thursday by veterans at the Batu Mbelin Sibolangit orangutan rehabilitation center, where he is being treated. 



The rehabilitation center is run by the Lestari Ecosystem Foundation and PanEco Foundation–Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (YEL-SOCP) in Deli Serdang regency, North Sumatra, Indonesia. Castri Delfi Saragih, one of the YEL-SOCP communication officers revealed that vets did attempt to remove all the pellets from the Paguh's body; however, they were unable to do so. "Paguh is currently in a stable condition after the veterinary team removed three pellets from his head," said Delfi while speaking to The Jakarta Post



Providing a detailed account of the extent of Paguh's injuries, one of the YEL-SOCP veterinarians, Meuthya Sr, shared that an X-ray revealed 16 pellets lodged in the orangutan's head while three of them were in his hip, four in his legs and arms, and one in his stomach. Furthermore, she added how her team would not strain the animal further by trying to remove all the pellets, especially if it worsens Paguh's condition since he is blind in both eyes. "At first we hoped that Paguh's eyes were not completely damaged or that at least one eye was still functioning," said Meuthya. "But unfortunately, we found that Paguh was blind in both eyes."



Citing the example of a female orangutan named Hope, the vets explained that they might not be able to remove all the pellets from Paguh's body. Hope was rescued in March following a similar attach just like Paguh, only that time, she had 74 air rifle pellets lodged inside her body. After trying their best, the vets were able to remove 10 of them, leaving 64 in her body. Fortunately, she survived and her condition was stabilized but sorrowfully, her 1-month-old baby died of malnutrition after its mother was gravely wounded. This, in turn, proves how Paguh's case wasn't an isolated incident.


Speaking to the outlet, Citrakasih Nente, YEL-SOCP orangutan rehabilitation and reintroduction program's supervisor shared how they had treated about 20 orangutans who had been shot by air rifles in the past ten years. In July 2017, a 30-year-old orangutan was discovered with 20 pellets in its body. Since recovering, the animal lives in Mount Leuser National Park (TNGL). Towards the end of 2015, yet another male orangutan was shot with 22 pellets. Unfortunately, he didn't survive his injuries and passed away while being treated at the Batu Mbelin Sibolangit rehabilitation center. 



"We are very concerned about these orangutan shootings that continue to happen," expressed Nente. "The authorities need to be serious in ensuring that air rifles are used according to prevailing regulations so that what happened to Paguh and Hope is not repeated." Even Agus Arianto, the head at Aceh BKSDA also expressed his grief for the devastating incident and explained how orangutans, despite being a protected species under the 1990 Nature Conservation law, are still being subjected to such violence. "Whoever [hurts an orangutan] can be imprisoned for up to five years and fined up to Rp 100 million [US$7,094]," concluded Arianto. 

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