First wild animal to cure wound using medicinal plant: Orangutan

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By Creative Media News

  • Rakus, a Sumatran orangutan, uses plant to treat facial wound
  • Akar Kuning plant’s healing properties applied by Rakus
  • Observations suggest potential for wound medication knowledge in orangutans

According to scientists, Rakus, a male Sumatran orangutan, exhibited a specific behavior in which he tore leaves and chewed on them before administering the resulting mixture to a wound below his right eye.

A first for wild animals, an orangutan was observed using a plant with healing properties to treat a laceration on its face, according to scientists.

Biologists observed Rakus, a male Sumatran orangutan, gnawing on the foliage of the Akar Kuning ascending plant.

The individual proceeded to apply the juicily formulated mixture to a wound located on his right cheek for over thirty minutes, or until the entire area of the injury was enveloped.

According to scientists, he nibbled on and selectively tore leaves before applying the resulting mixture to the injured area just below his right eye.

The researchers further noted that there were no indications of infection in the days that followed, and the incision healed completely within a month after being closed in less than five days.

In traditional medicine, the Akar Kuning plant, which is native to tropical forests in Southeast Asia, is frequently employed to treat conditions including dysentery, diabetes, and malaria due to its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties.

Since Rakus was not observed transferring the medicinal plant, the investigators deduced that he was likely employing it to treat the wound.

Dr. Isabelle Laumer, a cognitive biologist and primatologist at the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behaviour, stated that Rakus had received the injury three days prior, most likely in an altercation with a nearby male.

She stated that an alkaloid with “antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, antioxidant, and other biological activities pertinent to wound healing” was identified through testing of the plant’s chemical compounds.

Additionally, Rakus was observed to be napping more than usual following his wound.

Dr. Laumer stated that sleep promotes healthy wounds by increasing protein synthesis, growth hormone secretion, and cell division.

The team was less certain as to how the chimpanzee became aware of the curative properties of Akar Kuning.

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Dr. Laumer stated that orangutans at the Suaq Balimbing research site in Indonesia “rarely consume the plant… [However] individuals may inadvertently apply the plant’s juice to their wounds if they accidentally touch their wounds while feeding on this plant.”

Alternatively stated, Rakus might have inadvertently discovered its advantages.

The group stated that its findings, which were published in the journal Scientific Reports, could cast light on the evolutionary history of human wound medication knowledge.

It was stated that this is the first time an untamed animal has been observed applying known medicinal properties to a plant to treat wounds.

Fifteen hundred Sumatran orangutans reside in the protected rainforest region of the location in Indonesia.

With approximately 7,500 remaining, it is a critically endangered species, according to the World Wildlife Fund’s website.

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