Orangutans and Crocodiles

Hello again, sorry for the silence but I have just had another fantastic week in Tanjung Puting National Park. Actually, on Monday I was in Lamandau, on a peat-lands survey, but I was still out of the office and in the forest, which made for a good day! Map of TPNP

In case you're wondering where these places I keep mentioning are, here's a map (Pangkalanbun is where our office is).

At Pondok Ambung I caught up with René, the German crocodile researcher, and then spent a wonderful couple of days at Camp Leakey. There were orangutans everywhere! What was great was seeing some unusual things. Foremost on that list was food sharing between two adult females.

Camp Leakey July 08

Above and below, Rani and Riga - sharing food

Camp Leakey - Rani and Riga July 08

Young orangutans will often sample what their mothers are eating. This is part of the learning process; finding out what is good to eat. However, on Wednesday, I watched two adult orangutans Rani and her daughter Riga sharing food. What made this doubly interesting is that it was Riga who was giving food to her mother. There may be some biological reason for this – Rani’s three year old son is obviously Riga’s half-brother but that seems a stretch. Normally, the genetic drivers of caring-behaviour are down the generations, not up them. This could have been a case of dominance; the older female forcing the younger one to submit. However, it is also quite likely that it was a simple act of altruism: Riga had enough to eat so was happy to share with her mother.

The final excitement of the week was finding a dead and half-eaten crocodile. We reported this to René who examined the carcass. He estimated it to have been around three metres in length and was killed in a fight with another crocodile. Almost certainly the other crocodile was bigger.

TPNP river

Sekonyer River, TPNP

Having just bathed in that river it was kind of sobering to know there was a bigger crocodile out there…..

As always thanks for your comments, questions and support of our work. Maciej G, thank you very much for your $50 donation at the end of June. Will try and post again soon - the daily powercuts aren't making it easy!