The spreading of COVID-19 outbreak is increasingly worrying from day to day in many countries including Indonesia. Therefore, we have officially temporarily closed all stations under Sumatran Orangutan Programme (SOCP) to anyone except key staff, including the Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre since March 16th, 2020This step was taken to reduce the risk of the orangutans or staff being infected COVID-19. It is not scientifically clear whether orangutan can be infected with the rapidly spreading virus and so far there have been no cases of COVID-19 transmission from humans to apes. However, it has to be assumed that there is a potential that must be prepared for, because orangutans are one of our closest relatives, with about 97% of their DNA identical to ours.
At the Orangutan Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre, increased safety is required and staff movement is kept to a minimum during this pandemic outbreak. As a preventive measure, we have stricter hygiene rules and additional caution while working in the orangutan areas. We are regularly cleaning everywhere that is touched and spraying disinfectants. The vehicles that carrying orangutan’s feeds to the Centre are also sprayed with disinfectants before they enter the area. We also try to keep enough the orangutan food supplies by monitoring the market condition and the local communities that supply the fruits and vegetable to our Centre.
Other prevention strategies are the preparation of an isolation area for orangutans, and all new orangutan arrivals during this pandemic will undergo an additional isolation for a month before further quarantine and rehabilitation process and our team will monitor routinely. We will continue to maximize our work during this pandemic to protect orangutans and for the safety of all staff.
Amid the ongoing of Covid-19 outbreak, we are also exchanging views and information with government and other organizations who operate stations for great apes to develop procedures that will help us to get through this virus crisis as best as possible. We understand this current condition is very difficult for many people and we still hope for support from those who able to support and help orangutans find a better future in the rain forest.