Wounded orangutan seen using plant as medicine

This incident marks the first documented instance of a wild animal treating an injury with medicinal flora.

In a groundbreaking discovery, scientists have observed a Sumatran orangutan in Indonesia exhibiting remarkable self-medication behavior by using a paste derived from plants to heal a significant wound on its cheek.

The orangutan, named Rakus, caught the attention of researchers when they witnessed him applying the plant-based poultice to his injured cheek. Astonishingly, within a month, the wound exhibited signs of closure and eventual healing.


This extraordinary behavior sheds light on the potential shared ancestry between humans and great apes. Dr. Isabella Laumer, a biologist at the Max Planck Institute in Germany and the lead author of the study, emphasizes the striking similarities between humans and orangutans, underscoring the notion that we are more alike than different.

The discovery unfolded in the Gunung Leuser National Park, Indonesia, where Rakus was spotted sporting a sizable wound on his cheek in June 2022. It is believed that the injury resulted from skirmishes with rival male orangutans, indicated by Rakus’ vocalizations known as “long calls” in the days leading up to the sighting.


Further observations revealed Rakus engaging in a deliberate process of utilizing the stem and leaves of a plant known as Akar Kuning. This plant, renowned for its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties and commonly employed in local remedies for ailments such as malaria and diabetes, served as Rakus’ medicinal aid.

The orangutan meticulously chewed the plant, producing a liquid which he applied to his wound for approximately seven minutes. Subsequently, he coated the injured area with the chewed leaves, dedicating over 30 minutes to the entire process. Remarkably, the application of the plant paste yielded swift and remarkable results, with the wound exhibiting no signs of infection and closing within a mere five days.

After a month of diligent self-treatment, Rakus emerged fully healed, underscoring the remarkable ingenuity and resourcefulness exhibited by our primate counterparts in the face of adversity.

Written by Telha

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