Day 152, Year 3: Day 2 of the Ultimate Orangutan and Wildlife Explore
Date: Hari Ratu (Wednesday), Bulan Oktober 8, Pada Tahan 2008
Weather: How hot can it get?
Location: Sekonyer River, Kalimantan, Indonesia
Yesterday was a fantastic day but last night we learned what it is like really roughing it in the jungle. After dinner, Captain Suma brought mattresses up to the top deck and enclosed each in a mosquito net. Looked good. We were sleeping on the top deck with a tarp over our heads but still enough out in the open to hear all of the jungle sounds. All was well until about 3 am when the rains came. We had a torrential downpour that continued on into morning. Justin and Jo made it through fine,
but we had water coming in on Mark’s side of the bed that was soaking his mattress. He finally figured out that there was a low place in the covering tarp that was filling with water, so every twenty minutes of so he would get up and drain the water. Between the deafening sound of the pounding rain, the leaks, and the hard-as-a-board mattresses, we didn’t get all that much sleep in the early hours of the morning. But then we had already had hours of sleep before the rain, so we were really fine.
By the time we got up there were just “dibble dopps” of rain, but the clouds persisted through most of the day. After all, we are in a rain forest. We took a long walk through the jungle early and heard lots of jungle sounds but saw no wildlife. Back at Camp Leaky we watched the video about Kusasi and learned just how fragile the survival of the Borneo orangutans really is. I think it has slowed some now, but until recently Borneo was losing a forest the size of Vermont each year. It is the
world’s third largest island, but that is a huge chunk of forest to lose and the feeding area for orangutans has been drastically reduced. There are currently about 45,000 to 50,000 orangutans left in Borneo and another 7,000 on Sumatra, but that’s it for orangutans in the world. So if he loggers, miners, and farmers keep destroying the forests, there will be no more orangutans. After seeing the video, we were so glad that we had met Kusasi yesterday. We felt very lucky indeed.
We went back to the boat for lunch where Pan, the twelve to fifteen year-old son of Princess decided to make us his new best friends. Pan sat on the dock and watched as we ate lunch. Mark got brave and decided to go up and scratch Pan’s back. Pan seemed to love it and then Justin went up and sat down beside him on the top of the dock stairs. As they sat there, Pan seemed to spot something inside our boat. Quick as a flash he came down the dock steps, reached in the boat, and took the Captain’s
cookie jar. He made off to shore with the bounty. We watched him as he ate every single cookie. What a guy! It was then time for us to head in for the afternoon feeding. Mark and I went ahead and Pan was sitting by the side of the boardwalk. Mark took his hand and they walked together down the dock. Justin and Jo caught up with us, as well as our guide Rudi, and Rudi encouraged Justin and Jo to each take a hand a walk with Pan. It was quite a special moment. Pan finally got tired and sat
down and we moved on, but none of us will ever forget this experience.
We headed on to the feeding platform and watch more orangutan antics. Tom, the new king, came to the feeding platform for the second day in a row, and when returned to the camp, Kusasi was there with a couple of his old “girlfriends”, Siswi and Gara. Gara was there with her baby Gita and it was a little scary and a little touching to watch Kusasi reach to touch baby Gita. We couldn’t be sure of his intentions, but it honestly looked like he jut wanted to touch his baby. Male orangutans live alone
and never have anything to do with the parenting of their young, but today Kusasi looked like a doting papa. We just felt so lucky to be able to observe this.
It was the end of another day and we headed back to Omega and chugged down the river to find our anchoring spot for the night. We stopped when we saw a bunch of proboscis monkeys leaping from three to tree. These guys literally just leap and hope to find a leaf to hold on to. We tied up to some reeds, watched the show, and made this home for the night.
|081008 Day 152 Kalimantan, Indonesia–Orangutan River Trip, Day 2|