Saturday, June 28, 2014

Borneo: Orangutans

Orangutans in the wild are a sight to behold. These marvelous apes, the closest living relatives to humans have safe havens in Borneo that belong on everyone’s must-visit list.

Borneo’s rare animals, virgin rainforest and coral reefs deserve the number one spot on your must-see list. On this Southeast Asian island, you glimpse a world that is all but lost.

Begin in the south in Indonesian Borneo with a visit to Tanjung Puting National Park—home to numerous species of birds and monkeys, and its most famous residents: the endangered orangutans.

Tanjung Puting National Park

In 1971 Biruté Mary Galdikas arrived to a park decimated by loggers, rhinoceros hunted into extinction and wildlife protection laws unheard of. Through her research work, Galdikas, a protégé of paleontologist Louis Leakey, safeguarded—despite tremendous pressure from illegal logging and mining interests—one of the orangutans’ last havens in Borneo.

The Borneo rainforest is one of the few remaining natural habitats for the orangutan. Local boatmen take you on full-day river cruises through the forest where feeding stations bring orangutans into close range. You also see hornbills, crocodiles, and the proboscis monkey while gliding on narrow channels. Guides also lead hike through the forest in search of barking deer, rhinoceros hornbills, and Bornean wild pigs.

Headhunter’s Trail

In western Borneo in the Malaysian state of Sarawak, the Iban, formerly headhunters, now reside in longhouses along the Rejang and Baram rivers. Their longboats and dugout canoes pass through the jungle on large river systems. You learn about the indigenous culture by hiking the headhunters trail and staying overnight in an Iban longhouse where tales of headhunting are heard.

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