During last week, when I was in Tanjung Puting National Park, I had a close encounter that reminded me just how impressive these great apes are. Walking down the jetty from Camp Leakey we found our way blocked by Kusasi, who, I can assure you, is quite some bloke!
Kusasi and Tut blocking the way.
Kusasi was the dominant male of Camp Leakey for many years. Tut, a female, sat patiently in front of him; if he was not going to shift neither was she. So we called Abdi who is magical with the orangutans. Abdi simply walked up to Kusasi and shooed him away, much as you or I would a kitten.
Humbled, we thanked Abdi and walked on, only to find Uranus, another cheek-padded male, at the far end of the jetty. The rule with all orangutans is “never within arm’s reach” which means there was no walking past Uranus who has a 2m/7’ arm-span.
Tom, another cheek-padded male - thank goodness he wasn't on the jetty!
Kusasi had by this time returned to the jetty, which meant we could not walk on or go back. I tried my Abdi impersonation but failed dismally. With Uranus, we had to wait him out. It was almost sunset before he sauntered off to make his nest….