Friday, 22 May 2009

5 orang utan encounters.

Throughout my short time in Borneo I had 5 different meetings with 5 different orang utans in 5 totally different situations. Orang utan is Malay for man of the forest and is technically 2 words (so don't tell me I'm spelling it wrong).

The first meeting was probably the best. While on the river cruise through the rain forest we saw a completely wild female orang utan in a tree by the river side. It was truly amazing to see such a beautiful animal, so carefree and natural. She didn't mind us watching her one bit and just watched us back. We spent a good half an hour just watching her swing about in this tree before leaving her alone.
The second was in the Sepilock orang utan sanctuary. Although we didn't see much of the orang utans we didn't mind as the sanctuary does so much for conservation. Their purpose is to rescue orphaned or injured orang utans. They then hand raise the animals and slowly release them into a protected area of rainforest around the sanctuary. They will put out food on platforms for the orang utans to come back to and feed from if they want but they become effectively wild. Some orang utans come back for all of their lives and some are never seen again. These orang utans become completely wild again and form their own natural society, they now have a 3rd generation of wild orang utans around the sanctuary. The sanctuary has even released some orang utans back into the class 1 rainforest (untouched by humans).
Our third was at the zoo. Although other enclosures in the zoo where horrible, I was impressed with their orang utan enclosure. It was well spaced, had good enrichments and was well maintained.
The forth encounter was with a semi wild orang utan near the hot springs we visited. The hot springs are on the edge of Kinabalu park which is a huge area around mount Kinabalu, which is totally protected rainforest. This orang utan lived on the edge of the park and was occasionally fed by park rangers when food was scares. However it became familiar with humans and is now fed a lot by tourists (that's why he's a bit fat). So although he's technically wild he was partly domesticated.
The final meeting we had was a completely domesticated orang utan that we had come to the resort for us to see. Although we weren't aloud to touch her (named girl) we were aloud to we close to her and watch her play in the tee. It was very strange to see a combination of orang utan behavior and copied human behavior. Some people might think it's wrong to have her like this but now that she is domesticated there is no point trying to release her and the money she raises by visiting tourists like this goes to conservation of her natural habitat (this is the same principal behind zoos).

Over all I found it interesting to see the behavioral and even physical differences between the 5 orang utans. If you look carefully at the pictures you will see the more wild orang utans are more of a dark reddy-orange colour opposed to the captive ones which are a light orange colour. Out of all of them my favorite will always be the wild orang utan.

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