The life-saving work of a team dedicated to rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing orangutans back into the forests of Borneo will feature in a documentary on BBC Two’s Natural World programme tonight.

“We are in a crisis and we are running out of time,” – Karmele Llano Sanchez, Programme Director of International Animal Rescue in Indonesia.

In a Natural World programme this evening on BBC Two,  produced by Offspring Films, the work of International Animal Rescue (IAR) as its specialist teams come to the aid of apes left stranded when their forest home is destroyed and rehabilitate orphaned baby orangutans that have been taken from the wild for the illegal pet trade.

International Animal Rescue has been battling to save Borneo’s critically endangered orangutans for the past ten years. Armed with cameras, its teams have documented their fight for the orangutan’s survival as its forest home is razed to the ground by chainsaws, bulldozers and raging fires. Rescuers are seen pulling apes from the wreckage of the forest, administering emergency medical care to the sick, starving and injured, and caring for traumatised baby orangutans that have been snatched from their dying mothers to be sold into the illegal pet trade.

The documentary tells the story of the life-saving work of IAR’s rescue teams and chronicles how one of man’s closest wild relatives has been pushed to the brink of extinction. Combining genuine rescue footage with contributions from experts throughout, this powerful BBC documentary looks towards the future and asks what hope remains to save the orangutan.

The documentary sounds the alarm on the increasingly rapid decline in orangutan numbers and points the finger of blame at palm oil companies for their relentless destruction of the rainforest. It states that global palm oil consumption is set to double by 2050. According to the experts, only urgent action on both a local level among communities and governments as well as on a global scale by international institutions, food producers, supermarkets and consumers will pull the orangutan back from the brink.

“Every day that we are sitting here and not addressing conservation issues, 20 orangutans will disappear from the face of the earth,” – conservation scientist Eric Meijaard of Borneo Futures.


Red Ape, Natural World, is on BBC Two tonight at 9pm (Thursday, 10th May.)

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