Wounded Orangutan Found Healing Itself With Plant Medicine in the Wild

Wounded orangutan plant medicine.


A Sumatran orangutan was spotted in an Indonesian forest using a paste made from medicinal plants to heal a wound on its face, scientists have announced.

This discovery marks the first time that a creature has been spotted in the wild treating an injury with a medicinal plant, according to the BBC. The orangutan, named Rakus, was found applying a plant poultice to his face and was then record a month later with a wound that was closed up and healed.

Scientists said that the orangutan’s behavior resembles a common ancestor both humans and great apes have historically shared.

“They are our closest relatives and this again points towards the similarities we share with them. We are more similar than we are different,” said biologist Dr. Isabella Laumer of the Max Planck institute in Germany.

Rakus chewed on the stem and leaves of a plant called Akar Kuning, an anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial plant used by Indonesian locals to treat malaria and diabetes.


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Orangutan medicinal paste.

Rakus was spotted chewing on medicinal leaves, similar to what is shown here.


The advanced way in which Rakus applied the natural medicine surprised Laumer’s team. He repeatedly applied the liquid for seven minutes until his wound was fully covered. He then began to feed on the plant for 30 minutes, utilizing both the internal and external healing properties of the plant.

The wound closed within five days, researchers said, and after one month’s time, Rakus was fully healed.

The scientists said they know the process was medicinal because Akar Kuning is a plant rarely eaten by orangutans, and Rakus applied it for a considerable length of time.

“He repeatedly applied the paste, and he later also applied more solid plant matter,” Dr. Laumer said. “The entire process lasted really a considerable amount of time – that’s why we think he intentionally applied it,” she added.

Animals in captivity including chimpanzees in the 1960s have been seen using medicinal plants before. Dr. Jane Goodall noticed it happening in the 1960s.

Dr. Laumer said that it may have been the first time Rakus applied the medicinal plants for healing purposes.

“It could be that he accidentally touched his wound with his finger that had the plant on it,” she said. “And then because the plant has quite potent pain relieving substances he might have felt immediate pain relief, which made him apply it again and again,” she concluded.


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About Nick Meyer

Nick Meyer is a journalist who's been published in the Detroit Free Press, Dallas Morning News and several other outlets. He founded AltHealthWORKS in 2012 to showcase extraordinary stories of healing and the power of organic living, stories the mainstream media always seemed to miss. Check out Nick's Amazon best-seller 'Dirt Cheap Organic: 101 Tips For Going Organic on a Budget' by clicking here, as well as its sequel Dirt Cheap Weight Loss.

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