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  • Context (DTE): Scientists from Germany and Indonesia observed a male orangutan named ‘Rakus‘ in Sumatra using a medicinal plant to treat a wound on his face.
  • Rakus was seen selectively ripping off leaves of a liana called Akar Kuning (Fibraurea tinctoria), chewing them, and applying the resulting juice onto the wound for several minutes.

Orangutans - PMF IAS

  • According to Scientists, the plant used by Rakus is known for its analgesic and antipyretic effects and is used in traditional medicine by local people to treat diseases like malaria.


  • They are one of the extant species of great apes.
  • Great Apes: Common Chimpanzee, Orangutans, Gorilla and the Gracile Chimpanzee or Bonobo.
  • Found on the islands of Sumatra in Indonesia and Borneo.
  • There are three types of orangutans taxonomically: the Sumatran, the Bornean, and the Tapanuli.

Mammal CR Orangutan ()

Self-medication in non-human species

  • It has been observed before, particularly among great apes like chimpanzees and orangutans.
  • Great apes have been known to ingest specific plants to treat parasite infections and to use plant material to treat sore muscles.
  • Recently, a chimpanzee group in Gabon was observed applying insects to wounds. However, the treatment of a wound with a biologically active substance like in Rakus’ case has not been documented before.
  • Similar forms of wound treatment have been observed in both African and Asian great apes, indicating a shared behavior.
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