Pregnant orangutan clinging to the last remaining forest tree after bulldozers clear jungle to make way for oil plantation
Petrified and starving, a desperate orangutan clings defiantly to the last tree standing in her forest before it is completely destroyed and turned into a palm oil plantation.
Minutes later, the majestic creature is stunned by an anesthetic gun and falls into a net, taken away by rescuers.
She was one of several orangutans saved from probable death in Borneo due to the deforestation which threatens their existence.
Scared and alone: An orangutan clings to the last tree in her forest after it was devastated by bulldozers. She was rescued along with a number of other orangutans
Among those rescued were a pregnant female and a mother and baby who refused to let go of each other during their ordeal.
Rescuers from UK charity International Animal Rescue (IAR) and the local forestry department in Ketapang, West Kalimantan, moved in to save the creatures.
The frightened animals were desperately searching for food and had even resorted to eating bark from the trees they were trying to hide in.
One female orangutan was heavily pregnant, while another, who was still lactating, is thought to have had her baby snatched to be sold as a pet or killed before the rescue team arrived.
The final female was found with her scared baby clinging to her back and both were very thin from malnutrition.
All are now recovering and have since been released into a new area of forest but IAR is now urging a halt to any further land clearing because it is believed that there are other orangutans still trapped.
Karmele Llano Sanchez of IAR Indonesia said: ‘We were appalled at the condition of these orangutans.
‘All of them had gone through long periods of starvation before we rescued them.
‘The area where they were found was too small to provide them with sufficient food because the company had cleared most of the forest.
‘One of the orangutans had lost her baby, which was probably killed before the rescue team arrived.
‘More orangutans could die if this company does not take immediate action.’
‘It is heartbreaking to see the state of these animals.
‘They are weak from hunger and an increasingly desperate search for food.
‘The only positive note is that, on this occasion, rather than chasing them away or killing them, the palm oil company did the right thing and contacted us so we could move them to a place of safety.’
Palm oil is an ingredient found in up to half of processed foods, and is also increasingly being used as a biofuel in petrol tanks and power stations.
The expansion of oil palm plantations into high conservation value forests is recognised as a leading threat to critically endangered species including orangutans, elephants and tigers.