This was my first experience monitoring orangutans in the wild. It has long been my dream to do so, and I am grateful that it finally came true! I will cherish this memory forever.
The week started with the RHOI team trekking off on a Monday morning to find Leonie in the company of Long, Arif, Bungan and Ajeng. This early-morning group were enjoying a smorgasbord of forest foods. Fruiting trees are a hotspot for orangutan activity and this week the group were enjoying the macaranga gigantea, one of their favourites.
The orangutans of Camp Nles Mamse had been spending a lot of time together, which meant full days for the team. We observed the group getting along well and sharing the bountiful offerings of the forest trees and plants. Not tiring of each others company, Arif, Long, Bungan and Leonie were seen again later in the week, still enjoying fruits together. The team reported that Arif was seen building a day nest to relax in as he ate. Arif certainly knows when he is on to a good thing!
Both humans and orangutans had to share the camp and forest with some uninvited guests – bees! They were all around us at the camp and in the forest, making the already challenging days tracking orangutans more difficult, with frequent bee stings. As bees build their hives in the trees, orangutans cannot escape them either and the team observed several orangutans being stung as they foraged for food. The team kept a watchful eye over the orangutans, and noted that it seemed as though the bees were almost like annoying neighbours that the orangutans had learnt to live with.
The prize for the most elusive orangutan of the week went to Hanung. Despite coming to visit the team at the camp earlier in the week, Hanung became a man of mystery and managed to evade the radio telemetry for two days. The day after Hanung was spotted at the camp, the team set out expecting to find him close by. However, we ended up spending a full day cutting trails with a machete, and climbing up and slipping down steep mountains in the hope of hearing his signal again.
Never to walk away from a challenge, Rusda and the team set out again a few days later. After a torrential downpour the night before, the river was flooded and we had to cross it with bare feet and sheer willpower to stay above water. As the most recent addition to the team, I managed to make it to the other side but took an invigorating spontaneous dip right before my last step onto dry land when the river proved too mighty. Oh well, this is forest living, I thought.
As this update was being written, Hanung was spotted close to camp, sitting in a tree overlooking the Telen River.
Text By: Penelope Coulter, PRM Volunteer At Camp Nles Mamse, Kehje Sewen Forest
The year 2016 marks the BOS Foundation’s 25th anniversary. We hope all our released orangutans will continue to live safely in their new natural habitats, and we will continue to do our best to monitor their progress. We look forward to providing some new, exciting reports on their adaptations throughout the year! You can support our team and monitoring activities. DONATE NOW to the BOS Foundation and make a difference to the future survival of orangutans!