Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Jungle trekking in Borneo with Orangutans

“Going up that river was like traveling back to the earliest beginnings of the world, when vegetation rioted on the earth and the big trees were kings.”

Apologies to Joseph Conrad for stealing this quote from The Heart of Darkness, but a recent trip to Tandjung Puting Park in Borneo to visit the world’s largest population of orangutans felt a bit like being a character in his novel.

Tandjung Puting is home to 6,000 organgutans which are one of the planet’s three great apes (chimpanzees and gorillas are the other two). 

The park gives you an up close view of these remarkable animals.

I glimpsed a few orangutans in the wild, but mostly saw them at the park’s three feeding stations where rangers provide bananas once a day.

Tandjung Puting was first designated a national park by the Dutch in 1939, and later by the Indonesian government, but the orangutan reserve is mainly the work of a remarkable scientist named Birute Galdikas who arrived here in 1971 by dugout canoe.

She spent years following the orangutans often wading or standing in peat swamps with water up to her chest.

It was a magical experience watching these creatures emerge from jungle. 

You first would see tree branches swaying and then would catch a glimpse of red hair in the trees and finally they would slowly walk or swing over to the feeding platform.

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