Claudia Hartley, a vet from Cambridge/hero in our eyes, has performed eye surgery on an orangutan.

Aan the orangutan was shot 110 times on a palm oil plantation in Borneo in 2012. It left her blind in one eye and severely damaged her eyesight in the other.

Hartley said that the operation carried out at the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve in Borneo went “very well” and is hopeful Aan has her eyesight restored in her right eye as┬áher left is permanently blind.

The cruel attack thankfully did not kill Aan but many other orangutans are not lucky enough to escape with their lives. Palm oil plantations are rife in Borneo and Indonesia, the two places where orangutans in the wild are now found. They are extremely damaging to the continuation of the species as many plantations wipe out their habitats, leaving them with no other place to go.

It is not only this but forest fires too have been particularly damaging to the orangutans of Indonesia as many burn in the fires started by plantation workers. The illegal pet trade also has a part to play in this as people take orangutans from their habitats when the plantations are set up, keeping them as pets which is psychologically damaging to the animals.

Aan’s vet said: “She’s still quite sleepy and keeping the eye shut, so it’s difficult to know how much she sees. If we shone a bright light in [her eye] she would then scrunch her eye up. I’m pretty sure she can recognise the light.”

We hope Aan will make a speedy recovery and, like the Orangutan Foundation taking care of her, hope she can be released into the wild.

Last year the Bornean orangutan was classified as critically endangered, joining its relatives in Indonesia. One relative it doesn’t join with or gets enough support from is us: the human race. We share 96.4% of our DNA with these beautiful and incredibly intelligent animals. Isn’t it a shame we can’t see that?