Fruit is Scarce in Batikap

Similar to all natural forests, there are certain seasons and cycles when fruit is more abundant than others.  During this particular time of the year fruit in Bukit Batikap is less abundant and like wild orangutans, our orangutans are already adapting and consuming other food types found in the forest, such as termites and the inner stems of rattans and gingers. Others are resting for long periods, conserving energy, whilst some adventurous orangutans have roamed far north to Bukit Monnu where fruit is more abundant and many orangutans have congregated. The monitoring team have stretched their working range to the furthest approachable points to obtain radio tracking signals to confirm orangutan presence and distribution. Bukit Monnu is 2 hours by boat from our main camp, and we only have a very basic hut here, but we try and spend as much time here as possible to observe our orangutans. Read further for the update reports from the Monitoring Team in Batikap on some of the orangutans they successfully tracked and observed.


Isis who was released in February 2013 still focuses her activities around her release point. Unlike most orangutans in Batikap, at times of fruit shortage like now, Isis doesn’t put any effort into looking for food in Bukit Monnu. The Monitoring team have found her to be very skilful in looking for alternative foods such as termites, ants and tree-barks. Isis looks healthy and ignores the monitoring team in general, although sometimes she tries to avoid them.

During this fruit-poor period, Isis spends much of her time resting. She is also taking her time to adapt to her new life in the wild, sometimes only making one nest which she uses for napping during the day and sleeping in at night. Waking up from her nap, Isis can sometimes looks too lazy to get out of her nest, often staying there until 8 in the morning. Elongated periods of rest like this are normal for wild orangutans during periods of fruit shortage.

Waking up from her nap, Isis usually looks  too lazy. -Photo by Owang

Waking up from her nap, Isis usually looks too lazy. -Photo by Owang

Menteng and Ebol

Batikap makes a beautiful new home for the released orangutans, but even more to those who are developing social relationships like Ebol. This young female was separated from her mother just after release, and has developed a new friendship with Emen and her infant Embong. Ebol is often seen together with them, playing with Emen’s young son and all seem to  enjoying the company.  As Ebol matures she is also attracting the attention of the young males in Batikap.  Menteng, who is quickly turning into a fully-adult male, was seen together with Ebol at the start of May,  feeding together and just like Isis, presently they don’t roam far to find food.

Menteng, the 15 year old male orangutan shows his skills in choosing many varieties of food, while Ebol chooses shoots to replace fruit. Orangutans are adaptable and used to relying on fall-back foods in times of fruit shortages, which are generally less nutritious, but sufficient to tide them over.

Menteng, the 15 year old male orangutan shows his skills in choosing varieties of food. -Photo by Purnomo

Menteng, the 15 year old male orangutan shows his skills in choosing varieties of food. -Photo by Purnomo

They are not always together though, and sometimes they go their own separate way to search for food and pursue their own activities.

The orangutan monitoring activities are, undeniably, quite difficult to carry out during this time, but the monitoring team in Batikap are committed to observing and ensuring the well-being of the orangutans. A new fruit season will soon be upon us and the monitoring team can observe them without any difficulties.

Text by: Ike Naya S.


2 thoughts on “Fruit is Scarce in Batikap

  1. Thanks for this update! Hope this time of fruit shortage is over soon and the Orangutans eat healthily and safely during this shortage period!

    Best wishes for Long, Happy, Healthy, and Safe lives to Isis, Menteng, Ebol, Emen, Embong, and ALL Orangutans!!!!!!!

    What happened to Ebol’s mama? Is she safe and well??

    And for more adventurous Orangutans who are journeying far away to find fruits, are the voyage and the places where the fruits are safe?–meaning no danger of humans killing or harming them?

    • Dear Sasha,

      Thanks for your comments and questions. Ebol’s mother moved to the west of our release camp soon after she was released, whereas Ebol went east. They aren’t too far from each other, maybe 2-3 km, but we haven’t seen them meet yet. It is normal for young orangutans to separate from their mothers at Ebol’s age, although this is a process started by the mother and often resisted by the infant, so Ebol might be feeling a little lonely and in need of company.

      We pick up Mama Ebol’s radio-signal occasionally, the last time in mid-May, and the last time we saw her was in January. She is a fully wild orangutan and doesn’t like people, not surprising considering the ordeal she went through when her forest was cut down and we rescued her, so she gets very aggressive at us when we observe her. We have few concerns for her so she isn’t one of our priority orangutans for monitoring at present.

      The fruit-rich area where many orangutans have moved is deeper into the forest, away from settlements, so this is a safe area to be. We continue to work with the local community, socialising about our project and exchanging information with them, in order to provide the best long-term protection for the orangutans in Batikap. Thank you. 🙂

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