Posted on | February 2, 2014 | 10 Comments
Warning warning: not a food post. There’s only orangutans within. Really, really cute orangutans though.
We had to see orangutans when we went to Borneo, since they’re native to Borneo and Sumatra.
There’s actually two species: the Bornean orangutan and the Sumatran orangutan. We saw the Bornean orangutan on two occasions – once at a wildlife centre called Matang Ai (which, I wouldn’t recommend, it’s a bit of a sad place – cages and concrete enclosures) and the second time at Semenggoh Nature Reserve.
The Bornean orangutan is the third heaviest living primate (after the two species of gorilla) and is the largest truly tree-dwelling animal. Wild male orangutans typically weigh 75kg, but can weigh up to 100kg, with females averaging 38.5kg and up to 50kg.
They have very long arms that are twice the length of their legs, with coarse and shaggy red coats – you can see how long the arms are in this pic.
We arrived at Semenggoh just before feeding time. The aim there is to rehabilitate the orangutans, but there are also scheduled feeding times for those who can’t quite live independently. So at Semenggoh they’re free, but they’re not completely wild.
Everyone had to gather for a quick safety briefing before being allowed into the forest.
Safety briefing summarised: don’t wander off the trail, don’t make eye contact with the big male (Ritchie), don’t run, don’t make loud noises (particularly from children), listen to the rangers at all times, don’t stay below them if they move directly overhead, don’t freak out Ritchie, don’t point long sticks at them because they think they are weapons, don’t eat or drink near them, don’t freak out Ritchie. Really really: don’t freak out Ritchie.
And this is Ritchie, the alpha male. He was easily identifiable because he’s massive (apparently about 150kg) with the large cheek pads that flanged male orangutans develop. Not all males are flanged – and for an unflanged male to become flanged depends a lot on whether there is already a resident male present.
Ritchie never came particularly close, choosing instead to stay high in the trees to keep watch over everyone.
Quite a few of the other orangutans came down to the feeding platform for some fruit. They don’t always show up at feeding time – it depends on how they’re feeling.
Look at this one’s chubby tummy. He has a piece of coconut in his mouth.
There were also several babies clinging to their mums. So cute.
The rangers took things very seriously (which is a good thing) – at one point as everyone was leaving, Ritchie started coming closer to the trees near the trail, and the rangers stopped everyone to make sure he wasn’t going to be swinging overhead.
They’re really incredible creatures – it was so good to see them. There are amazing things in this world.