Several dozen Malaysian orangutans have been tested for coronavirus by veterinarians in protective suits, who have had the delicate task of giving them nasal swabs. About 30 primates from the Malaysian state of Sabah, on the island of Borneo, underwent the tests on Tuesday and all came out negative, local conservation authorities said.
“Tests for Covid-19 have been a vital instrument in helping us get through this pandemic, and it is also very important for the orangutan population”, underlined Sen Nathan, deputy director of the department of protection animals in the state of Sabah, in a statement on Saturday. These are the first tests carried out on orangutans in the Southeast Asian country.
Dozens of endangered Malaysian orangutans are being tested for SARSCoV2. So far, a 1st round of antigen tests have come back negative. Vigilence is key. “The disease could prove vastly detrimental to their health,” said Sen Nathan of Sabah State Wildlife https://t.co/7HHauLeDb2
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“This disease could jeopardize their re-education in the wild”
The procedure was decided upon after staff at a nature park and wildlife rehabilitation center for primates were infected. “This disease could be very dangerous for their health and jeopardize their re-education in the wild,” said Sen Nathan. Vets will continue to monitor the monkeys and tests will be performed regularly. Animals have tested positive for Covid-19 on several occasions.
This weekend, a zoo in Atlanta, United States, announced that several of its gorillas had been infected. Cats, dogs and a ferret were also infected. Malaysia, like other countries in Southeast Asia, is grappling with a significant wave of Covid-19 made worse by the highly contagious Delta variant. The country has recorded several thousand new cases and hundreds of deaths per day in recent weeks. The state of Sabah, in the north of the island of Borneo, home to vast swathes of virgin forests and great biodiversity, has also seen a surge in the number of cases among its residents.
According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Borneo’s orangutans are critically endangered. Their population has declined by more than 50% over the past 60 years, according to environmental NGO WWF, due to a reduction in their habitat due to logging, oil palm plantations and land use. exploitation of other natural resources. The island of Borneo is shared between Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei.