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A close up view of the endangered Orangutans of Borneo

  • 23
  • 04
  • 2016

Did you know that the Indonesian word ‘orangutan’ means ‘person of the forest’? So now you already know one word in the Indonesian language.

Orangutans are very solitary animals that are found only in the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra. Mothers bond with their babies for two years. After reaching adulthood, although the child may remain in the same location as the mother, there will not be any real social interaction between the two.

Adult orangutans that live in the same area have interactions more out of convenience than anything else. Most tend to live alone in trees and make a nest each night for sleeping.

1.1This adult male seems to be threatening another orangutan with his fist, but actually he has some fruit in his hand that he is holding onto carefully until he finishes off the banana that is in his mouth.


Here is a mother with her baby drinking milk at a feeding station at Camp Leakey, which was founded by Dr. Biruté Galdikas and her former spouse Rod Brindamour in 1971 as the first rehabilitation center in Indonesia for orangutans. Named after the famous anthropologist, Louis Leakey, it is in the center of a major rainforest, the favorite environment of orangutans.


Even though orangutans prefer to be solitary, they do not mind the presence of others when food is around. On the left in this photo is a mother holding her baby and facing away from the camera. In the middle is an adult male, and on the right is an adolescent male. All are happily eating bananas that the staff at Camp Leakey have put out for them at a feeding station.

Camp Leakey is an active research facility, so tourists are not allowed to stay overnight, but they are welcome to make day trips to the feeding stations to view the semi-wild orangutans in person.


In order to accommodate tourists, lodgings have been constructed in other parts of the rainforest, just a short ride on the river.

Seeing the orangutans in person is the experience of a lifetime. The starting point for this adventure is Pangkalan Bun, just a short flight from Jakarta. Even the best accommodations in the area are somewhat primitive, but seeing these ‘people of the forest’ up close and personal is well worth living without all the modern amenities for a few days.

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