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Bornean Orangutan

Old Man of the Forest

    The forest is silent, only the sounds of screeching insects can be heard as I sit on the wet rainforest floor with my camera at the ready. I am in Tanjung Putting National Park in Central Kalimantan, Borneo in the country of Indonesia. Here, there is a healthy population of wild orangutans that can be observed in this swampy environment. Since these animals spend most of their time in the trees, they can travel throughout the park and get to places people can't. Suddenly, off in the distance, I can hear branches crashing and moments later, a mother orangutan and her child swing past me and sit quietly for a moment in a large tree.  

   

     She sits with her back turned to me, unconcerned with my presence on the ground. After 20 minutes, she finally turns, trusting me to see her baby. I furiously snap photos as she models for me and allows her baby to nurse.That was my first encounter with this incredible species in the wild. After three days in the forest, I had many more encounters with several individuals. Each orangutan had a distinct personality and way about interacting with their surroundings. Many times, I observed human like mannerisms within their body language. The intelligence behind this animal's eyes is obvious and they often observed me as much as I observed them.  

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The only way to travel through Tanjung Putting is by way of several large rivers that cut through the jungle. 

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Living on a traditional wooden boat called a Klotok is the only way to explore the park and see orangutans. 

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The mother orangutan became comfortable enough with me to allow her offspring to nurse while I took photos and video. 

​Conserving the Red Ape

     These animals are struggling to survive in the modern world because much of their habitat is being destroyed by palm oil developments across the island. These developments use thrash and burn techniques to destroy valuable rainforest habitat to clear space for the planting of palm trees. These plantations degrade the ecosystem as well as exploit the local people for their labor and their land. As communities are forced to supplement their food with bush meat, hunting of orangutans is another way these animals are disappearing. Working with local communities to ensure their needs are met is the best method to protect endangered species and prevent poaching. Planet Indonesia works with local villages to protect the forest ecosystem and all of the unique animals found there. To help wild orangutans, purchase foods that are a part of the Roundtable of Responsible Palm Oil. To check which products are safe for orangutans, download the Cheyanne Mountain Zoo Sustainable Palm Oil Shopping App. Other ways to help orangutans in the wild is to reduce your carbon footprint by saving energy and recycling as well as educate others on what they can do to reduce their palm oil consumption. 

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