JAKARTA – The world’s only known albino orangutan was released on Tuesday into a protected forest in Indonesian Borneo, a year and a half after it was found malnourished in a cage.
Alba was released with another female orangutan, Kika, into a national park in Central Kalimantan province, according to Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF), which was in charge of the great ape’s rehabilitation.
“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,” said BOSF CEO Jamartin Sihite.
The decision to return Alba to her natural habitat was backed by local authorities as well as the government environmental conservation agency, BKSDA.
In April 2017, BOSF sheltered Alba at its rehabilitation center after she was rescued at around age five from the village of Tanggirang, where a local had caught her and held her captive.
The number of orangutans in Borneo dropped by 148,500 between 1999-2015 due to poaching and deforestation, according to a study published in February by scientific journal Current Biology.
Last year, a government study estimated that there are 57,350 orangutans in Borneo, an island shared between Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei.
The orangutan has been classified as a severely threatened species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.