The Orangutans are Growing Independent!

Rain has been pouring down over the last few days in Bukit Batikap. However and despite the rain, the monitoring team have been observing Sempung’s activities, a cheekpadded male orangutan who was released back in August 2012. He looks healthy and although he was already categorized as a semi-wild orangutan, he is already demonstrating more wild behaviour. He no longer seems to be keen on  human’s presence and prefers to be alone. Sempung has often been seen hanging out in tall trees and kiss-squeaks upon seeing the monitoring team.

Just like Sempung, Abam has also been monitored by the team and displays similar behaviour. He no longer appears to enjoy human presence and spends more time in the highest most reaches of tall trees meaning that the team must use binoculars to observe him. Also like other adult male orangutans, he too prefers to be alone, and kiss-squeaks if he is alerted to the presence of a nearby observer. During the middle of the day he can be found resting in a nest while enjoying his lunch.


Like other adult male orangutans, Abam prefers to be alone. -Photo by Joy

The orangutans appear to be  demonstrating greater independence, like those of wild orangutans’. So have their offspring who are learning a lot from their mothers and their new natural environment.

Embong, Emen’s Smart Son

Emen and her son Embong were recorded during the morning of July 3rd 2013, around 4 km southeast from Camp Totatjalu.

Emen and Embong were observed while having a lazy day out by the river, drying out their wet hair thanks to rain the night before. It is common for orangutans to sun bathe by the river to dry their hair after rain.

Emen and Embong looked healthy and their hair looked thicker than the last time they were observed. The monitoring team have seen this trend in several orangutans since their reintroduction into Bukit Batikap, and this is a very positive indication of their improved health and nutrition.  The forest is their natural home and full of all the natural healthy foods they need to survive and thrive – these cannot be easily replaced and recreated in a captive setting.

Emen was still by the river eating fruit. The team couldn’t determine what kind of fruit she was eating since it was so small, but they saw clearly when Emen washed the fruit in the river before eating it.


Emen washed the fruit in the river before eating it. -Photo by Ade Candra

They climbed up a heavily fruiting tree for 30 minutes before going back down to the ground to eat. The team couldn’t identify the tree but Emen and Embong didn’t seem to be picking or eating the fruit of that tree.


Emen and Embong climbed up a heavily fruiting tree. -Photo by Ade Candra

Once they were back on the ground, Emen reached for rattan shoots to munch on, while Embong chose a different meal than his mother. He went back up the tree and gathered a termite nest from the tree trunk. He ate with such gusto and almost made us believe that we probably should try it too! Little Embong has grown very skilled in choosing his food.

Seeing how her son was enjoying his food, Emen was interested to see what he was having. After finishing with the rattan shoots, Emen joined Embong eating the termites.

Markisa’s Family

Markisa is still taking care of her daughter Uli, they are both often seen eating together with Manggo, the elder daughter who is now 8 years old. This family is a huge fan of rattan fruit.

Manggo is growing independent and has started to separate herself from her mother. The monitoring team recorded Manggo in a tree 20 meters away from her mother and little sister. While tiny Uli, even though she is still under the care of her mother, has gathered the courage to play by herself. The team saw Uli separated herself from Markisa and swinging on a branch one meter away from her mother.


Tiny Uli has gathered the courage to play by herself. -Photo by Agus

Astrid and Astro

Other news we received calls for us to clarify the sex of Astrid’s new baby! In an earlier report we announced that Astrid’s baby was female and accordingly we named her Atsuko. It turns out that the baby is actually male, hence we have changed his name to Astro. This error occurred due to the difficulty of identifying the sex when the baby is so small and being held tightly by the mother, making it extremely hard to observe. We apologise the inaccurate information we have given!  The good news is though that Astrid and her son Astro were reported to be healthy and looked like they’re gaining weight.  Just like the other young one Uli, despite still being under her mother’s constant care, Astro is now courageous enough to play by himself even at his young age.

The team recorded Astro detach himself from Astrid and climbed a tree nearby.
He reached for small branches and leaves around him and clung to them. Meanwhile, his mother kept an eye on him while enjoying Diwung shoot (a species of Palmaceae).


Astro is now courageous enough to play by himself even at his young age. -Photo by Purnomo


Text by: Ike Naya Silana


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