Orangutan – Wise Old Man of the Jungle

Orangutan Banana

Have you heard about the “Wise Old Man of the Jungle?” He lives in the trees and has a kindly old face. His gentle eyes belie a fierce physical strength, yet he is gentle by nature. He lives alone in the tree tops in Indonesia and sustains himself on a diet of fruit. Do you know of who we refer? Of course we are talking about the Orangutan.

The Gentle Orangutan

This gentle primate is one of the largest and most intelligent members of the great ape family. The name really does mean “man of the forest”, orang = man and hutan = forest, in the Indonesian and Malay languages. The orangutan is native to the two islands of Sumatra and Borneo. There are actually 3 distinct species of Orangutans, two in Sumatra and one in Borneo. It was thought they were only 1 until 1996 when they were split into Borneo and Sumatra orangutans. Then in 2017 it was discovered the Sumatran population was actually two species after DNA testing. The 3 species are: Pongo pygmaeus in Borneo, Pongo abelii in northern Sumatra, and Pongo tapanuliensis in central Sumatra.

Orangutans are gentle animals who live a mostly solitary life. Females have a long relationship with their children and do maintain kinship as the youngsters grow. Males will typically only encounter others during mating season. They live on a diet consisting of fruit, bark, insects, and honey. They can live an average of 30 years old.

Visit The Orangutan While in Indonesia

Orangutan EatingMany visitors to Indonesia want to encounter orangutans in their natural habitat. There are several places in Kalimantan to visit these amazing animals, but the best is the Tanjung Puting nature reserve. Located in the southern area of Borneo, a jungle cruise is a great way to visit. A 2 or 3 day adventure can be easily arranged with a variety of operators.  Sleep and eat on the boat while partaking in daily walks through the jungle. This also where the major rehabilitation centers are located, including the Leakey Centre. Birute Galdikas is one of the main scientists who has pioneered research into these critically endangered animals. From her beginnings in 1971 there has been an increased interest in protecting these amazing primates.

Sadly their population is falling at a steady rate. Threats from deforestation for the palm oil industry, hunting, and the illegal pet trade are constant worries for orangutans in both Sumatra and Borneo. However, tourism can help. There are robust tourism industries in both south Kalimantan and northern Sumatra. Rehabilitation centres and national parks offer great ways for tourists to observe both wild and rehabilitating animals. A visit to any of these sites is an eye opening and life affirming activity. Reaching these places is relatively straight forward from Bali or Jakarta and it’s a great additional destination to visit before or after a journey on the Samata. Would you prefer to rest and relax in luxury instead? Why not plan a trip to Bali after your experience on the Samata?

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