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Wild orangutans use the plant to treat a wound  environment

Wild orangutans use the plant to treat a wound environment

Rakos was seen by scientists with a cut on his cheek – Image: Armas/via BBC

An orangutan from Sumatra, Indonesia, self-medicates with A Paste made from plants To heal a large wound on his cheek, scientists say.

And the First time That a creature in nature is recorded treating a wound with medicinal plant.

After researchers saw Rakos applying plant poultices to his face, the wound closed and healed within a month.

Scientists say this behavior may come from a common ancestor between humans and great apes.

“They are our closest relatives, and this again points to the similarities between us and them. We are more alike than different.”

– said biologist Isabella Lommer, from the Max Planck Institute in Germany, and co-author of the research.

A research team in Indonesia’s Gunung Leuser National Park discovered Rakus with a large gash on his cheek June 2022.

They believe that The animal was injured while fighting with a rival orangutan Because he made tearful screams, known as “long calls,” days before the injury was recognized.

Then he saw the team Rakus chew the stem and leaves of acar kuning – One Anti-inflammatory and antibacterial plant him too It is used locally to treat malaria and diabetes.

He repeatedly applied the liquid to his cheek for seven minutes. Rakos then spread the chewed leaves over his wound until it was completely covered. Continue feeding on the plant for more than 30 minutes.

The paste and leaves seemed to have worked their magic, as researchers found no sign of infection and the wound closed within five days.

“He applied the paste repeatedly, and then he also applied a harder plant material from the plant. The whole process took a long time – that’s why we think he applied it.” intentionally“Loomer explains.

Researchers He also saw Rakus resting much longer than usual – More than half the day – suggesting he was trying to recover after the injury.

Scientists already knew this was great Primates use medicine To try to heal.

In the 1960s, she saw biologist Jane Goodall Whole leaves in chimpanzee fecesOthers have documented seeing great primates ingesting leaves with medicinal properties.

But they had never seen a wild animal apply a plant to a wound.

Loomer says it’s possible this is the first time Rakos has received this type of treatment.

“He may have accidentally touched the wound with his finger containing the plant. Then, when the plant destroyed the powerful pain-relieving substances, he may have felt immediate relief, causing him to apply it again and again.” .

Or he may have learned the method by observing other forest animals in his group.

Researchers will now look more closely at other orangutans to see if they can discover the same medicinal abilities demonstrated by Rakus.

“I think in the coming years we will discover more behaviors and abilities that are very similar to humans,” she suggests.

The research is published in the scientific journal Scientific Reports.