Vets in full gear give Malaysia's endangered Orangutans COVID swabs

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Representative Image

Misbah Ali

In Malaysia, dozens of critically endangered orangutans have been tested for the COVID-19, with vets in protective gears undertaking the tricky task of giving the apes nasal swabs.

The Wildlife officials informed on September 7, 2021 that the antigen tests on 30 of the red-haired creatures in Sabah state on Borneo Island were conducted and all tested negative.

These tests were the first virus tests on orangutans in the Southeast Asian country, and they were conducted after staff at a rehabilitation centre and Wildlife Park was infected.

“Testing for COVID-19 has been a vital tool in helping us get through this pandemic, and it is similarly important for this orangutan population. The disease could prove vastly detrimental to their health and set back their rehabilitation,” the Assistant Director of the Sabah Wildlife Department, Sen Nathan said.

The officials have further informed that vets will continue to closely observe the apes and tests will be conducted on a regular basis.

From time to time, animals have been infected with coronavirus, as during the weekend, an Atlanta zoo announced that some of its gorillas have tested positive for COVID-19.

In addition to that domestic cats, dogs, and at least one ferret have also been tested positive.

Malaysia is combating a serious COVID-19 outbreak due to hyper transmissible Delta strain and has been reporting thousands of infections and hundreds of fatalities each day.

The surge in infections is also being faced by Sabah that is located on the northeastern tip of Borneo and is home to vast tracts of jungle and a kaleidoscope of rare animals.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature—a protection group, classified the Bornean orangutans as “critically endangered”.

According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), their populations have dropped by more than 50% over the past 60 years; as the animals’ forest habitat has been progressively cut down to make way for agricultural plantations.


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