Dr. Rakus’ Balm

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In 2022, biologist Isabelle Laumer and her colleagues were observing orangutans at Indonesia’s Gunung Leuser National Park on the Indonesian island of Sumatra when they noticed a primate named Rakus had a noticeable wound on its face, possibly caused by a fight with another male, Al Jazeera reported.

The team saw how Rakus began chewing a plant used throughout Southeast Asia to treat pain and inflammation, then took the chewed-up plant with his fingers and applied the juices on the injury, before pressing it onto the open injury – similar to applying a bandage.

Laumer reported that Rakus’ home remedy marked “the first time that we have observed a wild animal applying a quite potent medicinal plant directly to a wound,” according to a new study.

The researchers said that Rakus used a plant locally known as Akar Kuning, which is seldom eaten by orangutans. They added that Rakus did not swallow the plant and did not apply it to other parts of the body.

Meanwhile, his medical skills paid off as the wound closed up within a month without any complications.

While the study only focuses on a single observation, it’s possible that this practice could be common among other orangutans, other scientists suggested.

Orangutans on Borneo are known to rub themselves with the juices of a medicinal plant to relieve pain and eliminate parasites.

Meanwhile, chimpanzees and gorillas chew shoots of certain plants or swallow certain types of leaves to relieve bellyaches or remove stomach parasites.

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