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An orangutan has been severely wounded and blinded after being hit with dozens of air gun pellets in Indonesia. Named ‘Hope’ by rescuers, she sustained 74 pellet shots to her body including injuries to her left and right eye. Her month-old infant died while rescuers took them to a nearby clinic. The horrendous incident took place on Sumatra Island.

Yenny Saraswati, a veterinarian at the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program, said an x-ray showed she also sustained wounds believed to have been caused by sharp objects, and a broken collarbone. Hope underwent surgery and is recovering.

Saraswati said Hope would not be released into the wild after recovery and that only seven of the pellets had been removed. Veterinarians had prioritised the broken collarbone and the risk of infection it posed.

The use of readily available air guns to kill wildlife is a major problem in Indonesia, the Conservation Program said, adding that in the last ten years it has treated more than 15 orangutans with a total of 500 air gun pellets in their bodies.

Last year, an ape in Borneo died after being shot 130 times with an air gun. According to a study, the orangutan population in Borneo has plummeted by 100,000 since 1999. Around 13,400 Sumatran orangutans remain in the wild. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature lists the species as critically endangered.

David Barritt, chief campaigner for Network for Animals said the act of deliberately injuring animals was appalling. “Orangutans need to be protected and the Indonesian government needs to increase the punishment of those committing acts like this shooting.

“We call on authorities in Indonesia to ban air guns, as they pose a great danger to wildlife populations and could lead to the extermination of orangutans.”


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