After rescuing the world’s only known albino orangutan from a cage, a conservation group in Indonesia is raising money to build a special reserve just for her.
Meet Alba, a gentle and beautiful 5 year-old orangutan who was rescued from a cage in an Indonesian village earlier this year by the Borneo Orangutan Survival (BOS) Foundation. It's believed that she had been orphaned, given her young orangutan age, and illegally captured; when rescued she was suffering from a parasitic infection, low weight, and dehydration. She was frail and wary of humans.
Generally reddish-brown, orangutans are lovely and intelligent, and only found in the wild on the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and on Borneo. And depressingly, they are critically endangered. The International Union for Conservation of Nature notes that their numbers have dropped by nearly two-thirds since the early 1970s thanks to plantation agriculture that has destroyed and fragmented their forest habitat.
And Alba stands out as the rarest of rare; she is an albino, and the only one known in world.
After she was rescued in late April, the sweet creature was the inspiration for a naming contest that received thousands of suggestions from the public; “Alba” took the prize, meaning "white" in Latin and "dawn" in Spanish. Thanks to the efforts of BOS Foundation, Alba is now in much improved health.
However, she can not be safely returned to the wild, says the foundation. What with habitat destruction and awful humans, life in the forest would be tough enough, but her condition offers additional threats: Health issues like poor eyesight and hearing, and an increased potential for skin cancer would make her survival a challenge.
So BOS is working to create a special reserve for her, a moat-encircled 12-acre haven near its orangutan rehabilitation center in central Kalimantan on Borneo. Spokesman Nico Hermanu said the foundation is starting a public appeal to raise $80,000 needed to buy land, AP reports. She would share the reserve with three other orangutans she has bonded with since her rescue.
"To ensure that Alba can live a free and fulfilling life we are making her a forest island home, where she can live freely in natural habitat, but protected from threats posed by humans," the foundation said.
It’s such an incredible story. And while it’s just one primate in a world where so many are suffering, there is something about the appeal for Alba that feels very universal; a sense of compassion that transcends countries, species, and even the color of her hair.
Learn more about Alba in the video below. And to help fund her forest island, visit BOS Foundation.