Orangutan Uses Medical Leaves to Treat Injuries

Orangutans might be even smarter than we think. A team of researchers from the SUAQ Orangutan Program recently spotted one orangutan treating its injuries with medical leaves.

According to a study published in Scientific Reports journal, the researchers spotted an orangutan named Rakus in the forests of Sumatra, Indonesia, back in the summer of 2022. Rakus had a wound in his mouth and a big laceration under his eye.

In the following days, the field team kept track of Rakus and discovered a strange pattern of behavior. The orangutan was chewing on the liana plant leaves, which are known to have pain-relieving properties but are rarely consumed by orangutans.

The more interesting thing was that Rakus ended up making a paste from the liana plant leaves he chewed and then applied to the wound on his face. This is the first evidence of animals applying some sort of medication to treat skin wounds.

This study is the latest evidence that animals are capable of self-medication. A number of researchers showed that animals can self-medicate by purposely consuming certain plants. The knowledge about the healing properties of these plants is sometimes self-discovered, and other times, part of the skills passed on culturally when they were younglings.