Despite the increasing haze and threat of fires interring Tanjung Puting National Park (where volunteer fire crews are arduously constructing fire lines) the other thing that appears on the increase are orangutans — I’m finding babies everywhere!
I don’t know what kind of fruit was growing in the rainforest a year-ish ago, it appears to have done the trick, baby orangutans are in the arms of nearly every mature female I have seen. Most of the young, I would guess, are under the age of three-months. Adorable little helpless things that cling to mom with an iron fist grip. For those a touch older and starting to indulge their climbing curiosity mom is letting them test that grip on arboreal independence – like the little tike pictured.
Behaviorally it’s an interesting time, more Bornean orangutans, that should be a good thing, especially in light of Erik Meijaard’s recent report on poaching deaths [1,2], and more orangutans growing up like baby mountain gorillas — seeing humans virtually every day of their lives. What is missing it seems is the constant vet care such as implemented by Gorilla Doctors in the Virungas. Begs the question what is wild? Or is this the extreme conservation we are headed for?
Notes & Sources
2015-2016 Global research and reporting on great apes made possible in part through the generous financial support of the Philadelphia Zoo