A NEW documentary has been made on a Sussex charity’s bid to save the lives of 70 orangutans.

A team from International Animal Rescue (IAR), based in Uckfield, will appear in a one-hour special scheduled to air on the Nat Geo WILD channel on Monday (June 23).

The project at the charity’s Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre is managed from the UK by CEO Alan Knight, from Dallington, near Uckfield, where their head office is staffed by a small team of animal enthusiasts.

Mr Knight said: “The Nat Geo documentary is a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness of the plight of orangutans in Borneo.”

“It shows the wonderful work our team is doing to help them.”

Orangutan Rescue: Back To The Wild shows the development of the orphaned babies as they are taken through the forest everyday to build their strength and learn skills their mothers would have taught them.

And the documentary is expected to show the hours of care that baby orangutans receive from IAR’s team of vets, volunteers and babysitters, to set them on the road to recovery and freedom.

Mr Knight said the future of orangutans hangs in the balance.

“The destruction of the rainforest is leaving orangutans without food or shelter,” he said.

The IAR team is working around the clock to rescue orangutans being kept illegally or left stranded when their habitats are destroyed.

The film will show the orangutans Rocky and Rickina, two of the centre’s most charismatic characters.

They are always found together, hugging tightly, even when the babysitters lift them into the trees. Baby Rickina bears the scars of a machete attack that killed her mother. Despite being left with a nasty gash on her forehead, both babies are making progress.

Mr Knight said: “It is a captivating film, narrated by actress Miranda Richardson. I’m sure that viewers will be enthralled by the orangutans.”

The film also follows the adult male orangutan, Kaliba, as he is released back into the forest. Rescued from almost certain death, Kaliba’s return to the wild paves the way for more being released.

It may take years, but Mr Knight and his team are aiming to release every orangutan from the centre back into their rightful home in the wild.