(TMU) — A touching photo has captured the heartwarming moment when an orangutan reached out to assist a man standing in a river in Borneo, Indonesia.
In the photos, the great ape who lives in a conservation forest area in Borneo can be seen leaning over with his arm outstretched to help the man, who was submerged up to his chest in the muddy river.
The incredible images were captured by amateur photographer Anil Prabhakar, an Indonesian man who was on a safari with his friends when he spotted the encounter, reports Daily Mail.
Just a photo of a man clearing out snake infested waters and a Orangutan reaching out as he thinks the guy is in danger/needs help. I love animals so much man. pic.twitter.com/qhqjFzCQ5a
— Della Kemp (@Della_Kemp) February 7, 2020
Prabhakar soon discovered that the unnamed man devotes his workday to protecting the animals through the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation. When the encounter occurred, the man was scouring the area for snakes that might pose a lethal danger to the primates.
The worker eventually refused the orangutan’s hand after the photos were taken because the ape was a wild animal.
“Someone told him there was a snake in the river. The warden went there and cleared the bushes.
“An orangutan came to the banks and was watching what he was doing. He then came closer and gave his hand.
“The warden just moved away. I asked him why later and he said, ‘It’s a wild animal, not one we are familiar with.’
“But they are to protect them.”
— Gossipieh (@gossipieh) February 6, 2020
Orangutans in Borneo have faced a growing threat in the past several years as their habitat has been destroyed to make way for palm oil plantations. The vegetable oil is extracted from the fruits and seeds of the oil palm, also known as the African palm, and is a common additive on supermarket shelves across the globe.
Roughly 66 million tons of palm oil are produced each year, driving a trend that has seen forests burned and land robbed to make room for plantations, contributing greatly to global deforestation and the displacement of endemic animal species like the orangutan as well as rural human populations across the globe.
Palm oil production has largely driven orangutans to the brink of extinction, with the species now classified as critically endangered. Bornean orangutan populations have fallen by more than half between 1999 and 2015.
However, the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF) founded in 1991 has been “encouraging the protection of Bornean orangutans and their habitat” while “increasing the empowerment of communities surrounding orangutan habitat,” according to their website.
BOSF works in cooperation with local stakeholders, the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry, and a range of international NGOs to take care of nearly 650 orangutans through its devoted staff of 400. The foundation also works alongside experts in biodiversity, ecology, primatology, forest rehabilitation, agroforestry, community empowerment, education and healthcare.
The BOSF website explains:
“As one of our closest living relatives orangutans are highly intelligent, sentient beings.
“They are an iconic species of Indonesia and an important umbrella species.
“By protecting orangutans in their natural habitat, a whole plethora of other flora and fauna are also protected. Protecting their forest habitat is as important to humans as much as it is to wildlife.”