Indonesia Photo Tour – Day 6
By Michelle Alten
We are in the rainforest of Borneo, and the clouds just burst open—what a deluge. The rain is rushing through the canopy, showering the forest and the lush vegetation. Rivulets stream from the sugarcane fronds that dangle from the eaves of the lodge. This morning we hiked a short trail down to the sanctuary where orangutans are relearning how to, well, be orangutans. Apes injured or captured to be used as pets are taken through a multi-level program to develop skills they need to survive in the wild. Our guide, Imam, explained that once they are released, the staff tracks their progress for two years in the wild. Imam tells me he worked for a while on the tracking, living in the jungle with no contact with his family, noting every detail of the orangutans’ behavior. The effort here seems to be paying off: they have released 1,176 orangutans back into the wild and have a 92% survival rate. In addition, due to education programs, fewer and fewer orangutans are being taken as pets and farmers are reporting wild orangutans that are damaging crops so that they can be relocated rather than shooting them.