Orang-Utans

Orang-Utans live only in the rain forests of Borneo and Sumatra. I came to Pangkalan Bun in the south of Borneo to see these great apes. I had rented a boat with a guide (and a captain, and a cook, and a guy for everything else) to take me up the Sekonyer river into Tanjung Puting National Park, where both wild and rehabilitated Orang-Utans live. The rehabilitation program makes captured and freed Orang-Utans fit for a life in the wild. Believe it or not, some people try to keep Orang-Utans as pets, which is illegal everywhere.

To see the Orang-Utans, it takes a long walk through the rainforest from the boat pier. Deep into the forest, a giant male crossed our path, hand over hand along low tree branches. We have all seen pictures of Orang-Utans, but they can’t describe just how large and powerful they can be. It looked like it could break a man in half without breaking stride, but it seemed to have more important things to attend to and paid no attention to us at all.

Every camp in Tanjung Puting has a feeding station; a raised platforms where park rangers offer food, mostly bananas, corn, pineapples, and other fruit. A lot of females, which are much smaller than the males, come here, carrying a baby. Conveniently, there is a roped-off place with benches nearby for tourists to take pictures. Much easier than spotting them in the wild; Orang-Utans spend most of their time high up in the trees.