Animal Rights

A First for Wild Animals, Offering Insights into Cognitive Abilities and Cultural Transmission

Main image to the post A First for Wild Animals, Offering Insights into Cognitive Abilities and Cultural Transmission

Orangutan Self-Treats Wound with Medicinal Plant

In a remarkable display of self-awareness and problem-solving, a male Sumatran orangutan named Rakus has been observed treating a facial wound with a medicinal plant. This behavior, documented by researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior, marks the first documented case of a wild animal actively treating a wound with a plant known for its healing properties.

Rakus, estimated to be born in 1989, was observed using the plant, known as Akar Kuning (Fibraurea tinctoria), two months after the initial injury. He chewed the leaves to produce a liquid, which he then applied to the wound. He also applied the chewed-up plant material directly to the injury, mimicking the application of a wound plaster. Notably, this plant is rarely eaten by orangutans in this area.

The researchers believe that Rakus's behavior was intentional and not accidental. He selectively treated the wound on his right cheek and repeated the behavior multiple times until the wound was fully covered. The wound showed no signs of infection and closed within five days.

This observation suggests that orangutans may possess cognitive abilities similar to humans, including the ability to recognize and treat injuries. It also highlights the complex social learning and cultural transmission within orangutan communities.

While the exact cognitive processes involved in Rakus's behavior remain to be investigated, this discovery provides valuable insights into the intelligence and problem-solving abilities of our closest living relatives.

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May 21, 2023 | 05:09