Hanging On

Photograph for TIME by Charlie Cole.

Young orangutans spend five years learning survival skills at rehab centers before they can be released into the wild.

Every day Carel Van Schaik heard the chain saws as gangs of illegal loggers cut through the trees across the river from his orangutans' forest habitat. And every day the fighting between Acehnese rebels and the army moved closer; mutilated bodies sometimes were found dumped in these very forests. Indonesia was literally falling apart, village by village, tree by tree, and that meant extinction was nigh for myriad species, among them Van Schaik's orangutans. Environmentalists once said the apes might be extinct in a matter of decades; their increasingly frantic warnings now spoke of just years. Orangutans need virgin forest, and...

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