Following Orangutans

Below is a post writen by Felicity Paget. It was meant to be put earlier this week but the Sebangau Fires post went up instead. Tomorrow we should have an update about the situation in Sebangau, Central Kalimantan and we will keep you informed of the urgent situation there.  Felicity is currently doing her undergraduate thesis in Camp Buluh for the summer and she is sponsored by the Australian Orangutan Project (AOP). Apologies for the poor quality images. Over to Felicity....

"Well, I’ve completed a total of 25 days of dawn to dusk follows on 5 orangutans at camp Buluh in the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve. I am collecting data for an evaluation study of the released males at camp Buluh. I will now go to camp Siswoyo to complete 25 days of follows there and this will serve as my comparison. These 25 data collection days took me well over 30 days in total. I wasn’t entirely sure at first, why AOP and my uni supervisor thought I could do it. Gradually, however, I became acclimatised and somehow learned to have fun. The fun part was largely due to the awesome staff members who were always happy and laughing. I wonder how many people are that happy at work and my guess would be not many.

These rehabilitant orangutans are all male and extremely social as far as orangutans are concerned. I must admit this was quite surprising. They love to wrestle with each other whether with those above or below them in their clearly defined and seemingly linear social hierarchy.

 Male orangutan Warsito

Photo: Male orangutan Warsito likes to sleep

Male Orangutan Wookie 

Photo: Male orangutan Wookie is the smartest of the bunch!

Zidane -male orangutan now very healthy

 Male orangutan Zidane - now back to full health!

There are two very small wild orangutans, one male and one female, who frequently visit the feeding platform. Betli is the female and as you can imagine is very popular among the Buluh inhabitants. She is still very very small though and although she seems to invite copulations, none have been observed. Doni is a wild male and is very timid but over the month he seemed to grow accustomed to my presence at the feeding platform.

Male orangutan Omang

Male orangutan Omang - King of Buluh 

The current King of Buluh is Omang. He is a magnificent creature. I really grew very fond of Omang even though he was the biggest, the naughtiest and potentially the most dangerous to me. All of the staff at Camp Buluh are amazing. I grew extremely fond of them all and will miss them dearly. On sick days Mrs Ussmini would look after me and give me therapeutic massages. During the follows I was closely protected by the extremely competent and knowledgeable young male staff. They were keen to study English with me and helped me tremendously with my ‘Bahasa Indonesia’. I have been extremely lucky to have their help and without them none of this research would have been possible.