Needled by threat to apes
COULD acupuncture help a sick orang-outang?
Alstonville woman Caroline Ladewig thinks so, and she hopes to give it a try when she spends two months in Borneo working with the critically endangered orang-outang population.
“I’ve been an acupuncturist for about 12 years,” she said.
“And ever since I was a child I’ve been fascinated with apes.
“Working with the orang-outangs in Borneo is something that I have wanted to do for a very long time.
“My dream is to be able to do some acupuncture on the animals.”
It’s a dream which could soon become a reality. MsLadewig leaves for Borneo next month to volunteer with the orang-outang rehabilitation project at Sepilok.
Part of that will involve spending some time working alongside a veterinarian.
“Orang-outangs are very similar to humans, so I think they would respond well to the acupuncture,” Ms Ladewig said.
“I would love to work with animals more.
“I used to give acupuncture to my cat. She loved it and re-sponded really well to it.
“She would know that it was time for her treatment and she would lie on her back waiting for the needles.”
Ms Ladewig visited Borneo for the first time last yearand said seeing the orang-outangs was good, but she wanted to get even closer.
“As a tourist you can’t get very close to them,” she said.
“There was a two-and-a-half year waiting list for this project, but suddenly an opening came up and I took it.
“I am so excited.
“We will be working in a 4500-hectare reserve, looking after baby orang-outangs that have been orphaned or mistreated because they were kept as pets.
“The aim is to be able torelease these animals back into the wild.”
But the orang-outangs’ future looks bleak.
Worldwide demand for palm oil continues to grow, and huge tracts of rainforest habitat are cleared every day to make way for plantations.
Ms Ladewig said orang-outangs could be extinct in just a few years unless something was done urgently.
“It’s very sad,” she said.
“We need better labelling of palm oil in products sopeople can make informed choices about what they are buying.”