Advertisement

'Alba' The Only Albino Orangutan Finally Returns Home

Alba the orangutan has been released back into the wild after being rescued more than a year ago.

In 2017 Alba, who was then five years old, was rescued from captivity in Indonesia suffering from stress, dehydration, a parasite infection, and poor appetite.

She was rescued by a  team from the Central Kalimantan Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) and BOS Foundation, who took her through intensive treatment.

After more than a year of rehabilitation, Alba -- who is the only recorded albino of her species--  has been returned to the wild in Borneo.

Head of BKSDA Adib Gunawan said Alba's condition was "very unique."

The orangutan has white hair, blue irises, and red pupils, which are technically transparent. Her Spanish name means dawn or white.

According to Gunawan, Alba exhibited wild behaviours and had a firm dislike of humans when she was first rescued.

After more than a year of treatment during which she showed strong physical improvement, CEO of the Boreno Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOS), Jamartin Sihite said Alba was determined to be healthy enough to be released back into the wild.

"Alba has consistently displayed sound climbing skills and moves with ease around the branches, which are good indicators that she may be ready to live in the wild," Sihite said prior to her release.

Alba was returned back to the wild alongside her best friend Kika, another rescue Orangutan, after the pair formed a "special bond" during their time in treatment.

Alba and Kika when they first arrived at Nyaru Menteng. Image: BOSF 2018/Indrayana

The journey to the Bukit Baka Bukit Raya National Park took nearly a full day over land and river areas, with rescue crews facing heavy rains.

Kika, who was the first to be released, "burst out of her cage the second it was opened," the BOS Foundation said in a statement.

The Foundation said Alba was more tentative and exited her cage slowly and cautiously.

"Once she realised that humans were present, she quickly moved away into the forest and climbed up a tree. She brachiated for a while, showing us her familiarity with a wild environment."

A monitoring team will continue to evaluate Alba's adaptation over the next six months.

Despite showing good improvement and behaviour in the first two days following her release, the Foundation said they are "prepared to intervene and rescue her... if they feel that her life is in danger at any point."

The successful release brings the number of orangutans released to the National Park to 114, and the total number released by the BOS Foundation to 386.

The Bornean specie of Orangutan are classified as  critically endangered according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.

READ MORE: Incredible Vision Of A Baby Orangutan Born Via C-Section

They are native to Indonesia and Malaysia, but according to the World Wildlife Foundation, their populations have declined by more than 50 percent over the last 60 years.

There are now believed to be just over 100,000 left in the world.

Featured Image: Bjorn Vaugn/BPI/BOSF

Contact the author: vgerova@networkten.com.au