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  • D.J. Richardson

Central Kalimantan, Borneo, Indonesia

23/03/09 10:06

March 2009. Tanjung Puting National Park in southern Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo, is one of the last refuges of orangutans on Borneo amid disappearing jungles that are being cleared for palm oil plantations. It is also the home to Camp Leakey, an orangutan rescue project started by Dr. Birute Galdikas. Camp Leakey rescues infant orangutans from pet markets, or after their parents have been killed by loggers, and teach them to live in the jungle -- a process that can take 6 or 7 years. As a result, the grown orangutans who are reintroduced to living in the jungle have little fear of humans, though both keep some distance from each other. Also, because the clearing of jungle has meant that the population is more concentrated in the park, the rangers place extra food at certain feeding stations each day -- something that tends to attract the reintroduced orangutans more than the ones who are truly wild, and provides tourists an opportunity to view large numbers of the primates. Camp Leakey is reached by boat up a winding river through the jungle, a trip that felt like a cross between African Queen and Apocolypse Now, except instead of gunfire going off, my Blackberry would barrage me with emails from the office every so often when it would pick up a stray signal. Several orangutans were hanging around near the camp, watching my guide and I as we arrived. This mother and baby seemed particularly interested in watching us, and it was reciprocal. Shortly after this picture was taken, they climbed down from the tree and the infant ran around on the ground not far from us, until a wild boar approached (they eat baby orangutans) and the mother quickly scooped up her infant and returned to the trees.

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