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Orangutan spotted treating his wound with a Medicinal plant

Tue 07 May 2024    
| 2 min read

In a fascinating discovery, scientists observed an orangutan using a medicinal plant to treat its wound. This finding sheds light on the intelligence and resourcefulness of these primates.

The incident occurred in Indonesia’s Ketambe research area, where researchers were studying wild orangutans. They spotted an adult male orangutan with a wound on its arm. What surprised them was the orangutan’s behavior next – it began chewing the leaves of a plant known for its medicinal properties. The plant, called “Dracaena cantleyi,” is traditionally used by humans in Indonesia to treat wounds and inflammation.

The orangutan carefully chewed the leaves and then applied the saliva-soaked mixture to its wound, much like a human might use a poultice. This behavior suggests a level of self-awareness and problem-solving ability previously unseen in orangutans.

Dr. Ivona Foitova, the lead researcher, stated, “This observation provides evidence that orangutans are capable of self-medication, using plant compounds to treat injuries or ailments.”

Orangutans have long been known for their cognitive abilities, but this behavior adds another layer to their complexity. It indicates that they possess knowledge about the healing properties of certain plants and can utilize this knowledge for self-care.

Understanding the medicinal behaviors of orangutans is crucial for conservation efforts. As their habitats shrink due to deforestation and human encroachment, orangutans face increasing challenges in finding food and maintaining their health. Knowing how they self-medicate could inform conservation strategies and help protect these intelligent creatures.

The discovery also highlights the interconnectedness of humans and animals in the natural world. Both species rely on plants for medicinal purposes, underscoring the importance of preserving biodiversity and traditional knowledge.

Overall, this observation provides valuable insight into orangutan behavior and underscores the need for continued research and conservation efforts to protect these remarkable primates and their habitats.

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