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Crack!’, went the sound of a broken twig, stopping our Post-Release Monitoring (PRM) team, from Camp Nles Mamse in the Kehje Sewen Forest of East Kalimantan, in their tracks!

PRM Team: We were conducting a patrol along Transect 1 when a loud crack suddenly broke the silence. Tasked with observing and collecting data on the behaviour of released orangutans in the forest, we are always delighted to hear cracking sounds in the forest, as it indicates that an orangutan may be nearby.

When we looked up, we saw not one, but two orangutans foraging up in the canopy. It didn't take us long to identify the two as Angely and Justin, who have both been living in Kehje Sewen Forest for quite some time. Angely was released in 2016, while Justin was released a year later, in 2017. We immediately set up our gear to begin observations.

During our observations, we noticed something rather interesting: Justin seemed to be very attached to Angely, as he followed her practically everywhere she went. These two orangutans are both adults as Justin is 14 years old and Angely is 12.

Time passed, and in the afternoon the skies turned cloudy, creating the perfect conditions for a siesta. Justin started building his day nest. He was just about to lay down in his leaf-cushioned structure when Angely, who had been eating nearby, moved away and climbed into another tree. Without hesitation, Justin abandoned his comfortable nest to follow her.

When Angely finally stopped to build her nest, Justin also stopped and began building a new nest nearby, at a slightly higher level in the trees than Angely. Interestingly, when laying in their respective nests, Justin and Angely were both holding onto the same liana. Justin was seen jiggling the liana several times, and Angely would shake it light back towards him. They kept this up for quite a while, and appeared to be in sync with each other.

Justin became restless a short time later and emerged from his nest to nibble on and strip the bark of the liana he and Angely had been holding. Angely watched him chew away at their connection line. Then Justin, perhaps sensing that Angely was eyeing him, let go of the liana and climbed up into the canopy to find another place to forage. Angely waited for Justin to abandon his feeding spot, then slowly approached and took over the liana he had been working on.

As they ate in close proximity, but at slightly different levels of the canopy, it suddenly began to rain. Angely was in a good spot; protected by the thick canopy, she did not have to move to escape the downpour. Justin, meanwhile, quickly grabbed a wide leaf and used it as an umbrella to cover his head from the rain. Taking his chances, he climbed down and approached Angely. The two then sat together as the rain fell around them. Romance novelists couldn’t write a more tender scene!

Since the day was already turning dark, we immediately completed our observations and returned to camp - leaving Justin and Angely alone to spend the evening in privacy.

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