KOTA KINABALU - An injured orang utan that was recently rescued from an oil palm estate is fighting for its life at the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre in Sandakan.
The 20-year-old male primate has far worse injuries than the initial finding of multiple stab and slash wounds.
Plantation workers discovered the orang utan at an oil palm estate in Gedau, near Beluran, about 250km from here.
Sabah Wildlife Department assistant director Dr Sen Nathan said a team of veterinarians went to the site after getting a call from the estate owner at about 10.30am on Wednesday and found the animal unresponsive.
Dr Sen said a deep cut was found on the right shoulder measuring 13cm in length and 7cm deep. It is suspected that a sharp weapon, possibly a parang, caused the injury.
Dr Sen said there were also four puncture wounds on the forehead, possibly caused by what the locals call a bujak (spear).
"The condition of the orang utan is very serious," he said.
The centre's veterinarian Dr Laura Benedict said the orang utan was still weak and unstable.
"We had a very challenging episode last night as the orang utan developed a high fever and collapsed due to exhaustion and recurring infection from the wounds.
"This morning (Thursday), he appeared a little bit brighter and ate his first banana," said Dr Laura.
Beluran OCPD Supt V. Sivananthan said a report had been made over the incident.
"We'll let the Wildlife Department carry out the investigation first. If it is clear that the orang utan was injured by humans, we will take over to find the culprits," he said.
Orang utans are listed as totally protected and an endangered species under the Wildlife Conservation Act 1997. Under this provision, offenders will face mandatory prison of six months to five years and/or a fine of up to RM50,000 (S$18,000).