Friday, April 17, 2009

Warrior Saves 'Baby'



Thursday April 16, 2009

KUCHING: Highly-decorated former soldier Kanang Langkau has killed communists deep in Malaysian jungles, but has never seen a baby orang utan before.

“In all my 25 years serving in the jungle during my army days, I never came across a baby orang utan.

“They’re so rare and we need to protect them so that our grandchildren can still see them in the future,” he said.

*Pucker up: Kanang (left) getting a kiss from the baby orang utan before handing the primate over to Landong.*

Kanang, who was shot three times when his platoon ambushed a communist camp in Perak in 1980 and killed five communists, was awarded the Panglima Gagah Berani and Seri Pahlawan Gagah Perkasa medals in 1981.

He had his first encounter with the baby primate last Friday when his friend businessman Tay Choon Yong was driving through the Lingga bazaar near Sri Aman, about 200km from here, and came across a boy playing with the baby orang utan by the roadside.

“I don’t know how the boy got hold of the orang utan but I suspect it was being kept as a pet,” Tay said.

Tay persuaded the boy to give him the animal by telling him that it could not be kept as a pet and that it probably would not survive in captivity.

He then called Kanang to inform him about the orang utan and Kanang proposed sending it to Semenggoh.

The two drove here yesterday to hand the animal over to Sarawak Forestry staff members and requested for it to be named Simanggang after the old name for the Sri Aman division where it was found.

Sarawak Forestry chief park warden Wilfred Landong said the orang utan would be sent to the Matang Wildlife Centre for rehabilitation and possibly released back into the wild.

“We may release it in the Kubah National Park, where the Matang Wildlife Centre is located, or at Semenggoh,” he said.

He added that special care would need to be given to the baby as it was without its mother.

“We’ll see if it can have a surrogate mother at Matang,” he said.

Landong said Sarawak Forestry would also investigate how the baby orang utan ended up in captivity.

He said Sarawak Forestry would send a team to Lingga to find out whether there was any previously unknown orang utan habitat in the area.

“We’re very interested in finding out if there’s a new habitat there. If yes, we will propose steps to protect the area,” he said.

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