This orangutan mother and her infant greeted us on our walk through the forest to a feeding station at Camp Leakey. The feeding station is about a 20 minute stroll from the main buildings at Camp Leakey, which was established by Dr. Birute Mary Galdikas shortly after her arrival in Borneo in 1971.
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A Close Encounter
A chance to visit our genetic cousins in the middle of the jungle was an opportunity I simply could not pass. Travelling by Kelotok (Local traditional motor boat) to the national park, we perused down the river with breeze on our faces that gave relief from the heat and humidity. Passing lush pines and rainforest on either sides gave out an Amazonian-adventure feel to the trip.
Kelotok is usually crewed by the tour guide-cum-captain, a cook, driver, and his assistant, and is the main transport in and out of the national park. It usually fits 4-6 people, and an ideal alternative to hotel for people who want more authentic experience or on a budget (just bring a lot of insect repellant, though). Meals and snacks are provided, so, when you have to be on the boat for a few hours, it makes for a very relaxing time.
But my highlight would be the face-to-face encounter with the creature that shares 97% of our DNA. According to WWF, there are 45000-69000 Bornean Orangutan left and their population is still decreasing due to deforestation, and oil palm plantation. The many non-profit organisations working to protect these orangutans are doing their best, but unfortunately, the might of big oil companies and lack of governmental support continuously provide an uphill battle.
This information just made my visit more meaningful, knowing that these beautiful creatures sadly might not be around in the future ( i really hope that is not true!).