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Orangutan Welcome

Orangutan welcome, Tanjung puting wildlife information, Orangutan nice story, journeys with Borneo mammals and nature reserved in Central Borneo Indonesia.

orangutan welcome

Orangutan Welcome

Forest people’ melt many hearts - Orangutan welcome to Tanjung puting wildlife information

Indonesia has the dubious honour of a Guinness Book of Records entry for the highest level of deforestation anywhere in the world. The massive expansion of palm oil plantations, most illegal, is the single most significant threat to the survival of the orangutans.

The equivalent of 300 soccer fields are being deforested every hour for palm oil plantations.

The orangutans who call the forest ‘home’ are not relocated by the loggers – they are shot, killed and the babies sold as pets.

It costs just 75 cents to protect one hectare of jungle forest and $2000 a year to care for an orphaned orangutan. Our group adopted more than 100 orangutan babies. You can adopt a baby for a whole year for just $55.(details on adopting a baby orangutan,please contact directly Orangutan Foundation in your country)

Orangutans are only found in Indonesia and Malaysia on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. In 1900 there were more than 315,000 wild orangutans – today there are less than 45,000 and they are being slaughtered at a rate of about 6000 every year.

When you watch these amazing creatures in the jungle, watch the mums cradle their babies, the big boss dads peacefully chomping on bananas, watch them moving gracefully through the tree tops, watch their gorgeous faces – your heart just melts. How could any human harm such a creature?

Orangutans are 97% genetically like us. The babies rely on their mums to teach them everything, including the important job of building nests high in the treetops away from predators on the ground. They build a new nest every night – keeping on the move in search for food.

Our trip to Tanjung Puting National Park in Kalimantan, Central Borneo was ‘totally awesome’. We were so very blessed. We saw 18 orangutans at the feeding stations and surrounds and more along the riverbanks. We were also enchanted by dozens and dozens of proboscis monkeys and macaque monkeys, plus one naughty gibbon (who slipped into the ceiling of a food storage shed like a contortionist). Then there’s the abundant bird life - the magnificent hornbills – and butterflies of all sizes and colours. Our group also encountered a couple of freshwater crocodiles, some wild boar (buaya) and one fleet-footed clouded leopard some hours before sunrise.

Tanjung Puting National Park is the base of world-renown orangutan expert Dr. Birute Galdikas, who has been studying and living with the orangutans since 1971 when she was just 25 years old.

Dr Galdikas was mentored by Dr Louis Leakey along with Diane Fossey and Jane Goodall. Camp Leakey, inside the Tanjung Puting National Park, is the site of the longest continuous study by a principal investigator of any non-human wild animal in the history of science.

Tanjung Puting became our home for a week – or more specifically the Camp Leakey River was our home as we chugged along on the blue-and-white wooden klotok boats. We ate, toured and slept on the boats – pulling up alongside riverbanks and just lashing a rope to the Nipah mangrove palms. The crew served three delicious meals a day – meat, fish, tempeh, rice, vegetables, fruit and other treats such as French toast and pancakes.

Before arriving at Tanjung Puting, we spent one night on land at Rimba Orangutan Eco-Lodge built above swamp ground on the banks of the Sekonyer River. Visitors share the lodge with Macaque monkeys who scatter across the rooftops and walking platforms and, sometimes, just sometimes, stay still long enough for a photograph.

Our days in the jungle were spent visiting information centers and watching orangutans make their way to feeding stations deep in the national parks. These were the orangutans that were once orphans. They had been released back to the jungle and had started family trees of their own.

At Tanjung Puting, the oldest orangutan we saw was Tutut who was 40. We also met Siswi (35), Samson (17), Riga (35) and her son, Roy (2), Carlos (18), Popai (19), Unyuk (30) and her daughter Ursula (2). And we met the very famous, Princess, who did a kind-of meet and greet at the wharf and checked we humans out numerous times. She also showed off her one-year-old son, Putri, and two-year-old son, Persi.

Forty-five-year-old Princess is a cover girl on many magazines across the world because of her cheeky character and her intelligence. She often ‘borrows’ the little boats and rows along the river searching for food growing along the banks. When she has had her fill, she promptly ditches the boat and heads back into the jungle. The national park carers have to send out search parties for the boats.

Princess is also a dab hand at taking the keys to the food storage sheds and unlocking the padlock to have a snack. We saw her in action, and saw her being sprung by a carer. She gave a ‘thumbs up’ sign that probably meant ‘next time’.

At nearby Tanjung Harapan National Park we saw Wana Laga (27) a sub-adult male in the river palms. He had not been sighted for many years. We watched the big male Yani (24) with his big boss cheeks lord it over the feeding platform and then we watched in awe as Ceping and her six-year-old, Citra, cautiously made their way across the treetops towards Yani.

The baby orangutan was definitely not going anywhere near Yani. His mum, Ceping, was so patient as she led him across the treetops – at times prying away his long fingers wrapped around tree stems, pulling his legs, coaxing him to continue to the feeding platform. We watched for about an hour until the mum reached the platform. With Citra remaining in the treetops, Ceping filled her mouth with fruit and headed back to feed her son. She did this many times. Such devotion and patience.

At dusk we would settle on our klotok boats, chug somewhere up-river and watch with wonder as families of proboscis monkeys settled in the riverbank trees, blending in with the brown leaves. The babies clinging to their mums’ chests, the young ones chattering and mucking around, the big males haunched on the branches, their long white tails hanging down. These dusky silhouettes are unforgettable. The proboscis monkey has a large nose and in profile is quite striking – especially with that long, white tail.

Every day was an awesome experience. One day we trekked into the jungle to stay overnight in tents at Pesalat Camp – deep in the jungle. This jungle camping experience is only available to scientists and researchers. We had organized a special pass for our small team. It was during this trek that we encountered the tropical thunderstorm – just as we were entering the swamp.

Two hours later, we arrived at Pesalat Camp drenched, all our gear sodden (camera gear okay), our hands and feet wrinkled, leeches galore. The village crew from Kumai was already there setting up our tents and boiling water for hot drinks. We were ecstatic! Hey, if you are going to trek through the Borneo jungle swamp, you might as well do it right – smack bang in the middle of a tropical thunderstorm!

The next morning, on our way back to the Klotoks, we stopped at Pesalat plant nursery where we planted native trees in a re-a forestation area. Again, we were blown away. So deep in the jungle and yet we were given the GPS co-ordinates so that we can monitor the growth of our trees on Google Earth from our comfy Aussie homes. Re-forestation is an integral part of the grand plan to save the orangutans and all the jungle creatures.

Our whole jungle adventure was made even more memorable by the passion and warm friendship of the kelotok crew, the Kumai villagers (whose children we gave Aussie souvenirs such as kangaroo and koala toys) and the Borneo-born tour guides. We talked, laughed, swapped stories and learned the words of the Bahasa and Malay languages. There were real tears and hugs when saying goodbye.

In just one week in the Borneo jungle, this small group of Aussies had experienced something that we will never forget. And I have become a passionate orangutan supporter. You can’t get that close without your heart being touched. Written by Wendy O'Hanlon, Led by Ramadh Khan May 2009.

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