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IPFS News Link • Animals and Pets

Scientists watch orangutan treat its own wound with medicinal plant for the first time


A Sumatran orangutan, named Rakus, was seen chewing up leaves of a medicinal plant, create a pulp and administering the substance on an injury near his eye.

Not only were scientists amazed that the orangutan knew the plant had medicinal powers, but the sight of an ape treating its wounds have never before seen.

After two months, the wound had healed and orangutan's face showed little sign that he had ever been injured. 

The surprising observation was made in Gunung Leuser National Park in South Aceh, Indonesia the summer before last.

Researchers have been studying Rakussince first spotting him in 2009, but noticed on June 22, 2022 that he had suffered some kind of injury to his face.

While it is unknown how the wound occurred, the team noted that male orangutans often sustain such injuries in fights with other dominant males. 

After the first sighting, the team returned three days later to find Rakus eating leaves from the plant that locals call Akar Kuning (scientific name Fibraurea tinctoria).

That was already unusual, as orangutans almost never eat the plant. 

People have long used Akar Kuning to treat many ailments including diabetes, dysentery, and malaria.

But never before had they seen an ape use it.

The team observed Rakus chew the leaves for about 13 minutes, then collect the pulp with his finger and placing it around his eye until the wound was completely covered.