Meet Ukraine. He’s a teenage male orangutan, and he braved the rain to be the first onto the Camp Leakey feeding platform to pig out on the bananas so he was the first one we saw on our two-day trip into the Kalimantan (Borneo) jungle to see the orangutans. He ate his fill then scarpered off back into the drizzly jungle.
This is Terry. He’s a fully grown male, hence the puffed-out cheeks, but he isn’t the Alpha of the group. Even so, he still clearly exerts plenty of influence, and the other orangutans tread carefully and don’t hang around while he’s on the feeding platform.
This is Marta and her bub. We saw a lot of mother-orangutans with their offspring, who usually stay with their mums until they are 7 or 8. They seem to have it pretty good: riding around on mum’s back as she swings through the trees, or being given a chance to explore a bit on their own, but always under a watchful eye.
Percy was waiting for us back at the boat dock. Apparently he likes to hang out there and give the tourists a bit of hard time as we are leaving the station. He took a swipe at someone’s backpack, but otherwise he just moped around like a grump and then wandered off back down the path.
This is Roger, another big male. He showed us all who is boss when he knocked down a few big trees, just because he could! Andy and a few others taking pictures below had to jump to safety!
In all, it was an amazing amazing amazing trip. The two days spent on the klotok (river boat) cruising along tributaries of the Kumai River were really special. We were extremely well looked after by our guide Kris and the crew. The food was enak (delicious) and it was really pleasant going to sleep under mozzie nets with the sounds of the jungle all around. But the highlight was the time spent with the orangutans. We saw about thirty of the semi-wild orangutans that live in the Tanjung Puting National Park, and three wild orangutans along the river. But we also saw dolphins, crocodiles, water monitor lizards, snakes, hornbill birds, brightly-coloured kingfishers, paper butterflies, and several other types of primates – proboscis monkeys, silver langurs and naughty macaques that stole food (just like at Kelimutu).
It was definitely worth the tiring three-day passage to get to Kalimantan from Bali. And the best bit was by visiting we have contributed to orangutan conservation efforts. Like all great ape species, their populations have declined due to human interferance and habitat destruction. The World Wildlife Fund estimates that there are only about 100,000 orangutans left, with the biggest threat being palm oil plantations.