Sunday, March 09, 2008

Hope and harmony in Borneo’s rainforests

It was love at first sight from the moment Ed Grenby met her in Malaysia. A ravishing red-head, she was star-crossed, sweet and short .

I look deep into Hope’s eyes, and she looks back into mine. She smiles and I smile too. She reaches out for my hand, and I reach for hers. But just as we are about to touch, a uniformed gentleman with a truncheon sternly reminds me of the no-contact rule, and Hope is led away, her big brown eyes brimming with sadness, and her knuckles scraping the floor.

It’s a tragic, Romeo-and-Juliet story of a love that couldn’t be, of a couple who shared so much but were divided by that age-old barrier: she was from one species; I, another.

If I’m honest — and that’s important when a relationship ends, isn’t it? — she probably only ever liked me for my spiffy new Nikon. “Orang-utans love small, shiny objects like digital cameras or iPods,” says John, chief warden at my Malaysian hotel’s on-site nature reserve, fingering his truncheon thoughtfully. “They’ll steal anything like that.” Surely Hope couldn’t be that shallow, I think, but when I look over to her, expecting a picture of inconsolable yearning, she seems to have cheered herself up pretty effectively with a banana and a stick.

Continue reading (incl. pics) at: Hope and harmony in Borneo’s rainforests

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