LEARNING TO LIVE WITH OUR FOREST-DWELLING NEIGHBOURS
Human population growth and the expansion of development into forest regions has the potential to lead to human-orangutan conflict.
Camp Lesik has had a new visitor! The orangutan, who is yet to be identified, was recently observed off the back of camp. While we don’t yet know who this individual is, we can be certain that this visitor is a rehabilitated orangutan, as there is a visible transmitter implanted in their back. After spotting our team members, the orangutan immediately left the camp area and moved deeper into the forest.
A week later, the same orangutan was seen again around Camp Lesik, but this time was not alone. The orangutan was in the company of Lesan and her child. They appeared to be comfortable in one another’s company, indicating that they had formed a close relationship. The unidentified orangutan followed Lesan and her child wherever they went. While orangutans are semi-solitary and territorial individuals, some will still socialise with other orangutans, especially those who have undergone rehabilitation and spent time in Forest School groups. Social skills acquired in Forest School tend to increase the confidence of these individuals when they are released in the wild.
Mystery Orangutan Visits Camp Lesik (Photo credit: Avita)
Orangutan DNA is very similar to that of humans, as are some of their social behaviours: Orangutans will also play, coerce, touch, hug, hold each other, and spend time together. This is what was observed in this mystery orangutan when they were socialising with Lesan and her family. The group was observed eating and sharing palm fruit (Elaeis) and leaves (Adiantum peruvianum), with the unidentified orangutan even requested fruit from Lesan!
After filling up on fruits and leaves, the group re-entered the forest and headed toward the Pehpan River. This new friendship is exciting news from our team based in the forest. Hopefully, in the future, many more orangutans will occupy the Kehje Sewen Forest.