Just over a year ago on the 14th of February 2013, Edwan was released into Batikap. He first came to Nyaru Menteng at the end of August 2007 when he was already about four and a half years old. Back then he was described by the Nyaru Menteng staff as an active, somewhat aggressive male with short, bushy hair and very dark skin. Although 9 years old, he wasn´t that big when he was released, only a little over 30 kilograms. Just after his cage was opened in the forests of Batikap he was one of those orangutans who climbed into the trees immediately, but he didn´t travel far that day.
In the days that followed the release Edwan travelled a little way up stream of the river that runs in front of our camp and continued to behave aggressively towards anyone who tried to observe him. This behaviour occurred all throughout February. During March he wasn´t directly observed, only his signal was picked up from Bukit Simon, close to where Edwan was seen last. No one managed to find him. At the beginning of June however, Edwan was found upstream along another river, a few kilometres from where he was seen before. He appeared to be a changed orangutan, for he wasn’t bothered about the presence of the humans and was not aggressive at all. His only reaction was to kiss-squeak when his observers tried to take pictures of him, but who wouldn´t kiss-squeek in a situation like that! Luckily he was as energetic as before and kept moving around, moving through the trees and eating a lot of fruit.
The rest of the month no one saw Edwan, until he made his appearence again at the beginning of July. Was this going to be a monthly visit that Edwan was granting us? Nothing had changed since his visit in June; he was still ignoring the people observing him and he was still eating a lot, which is very good. We left him alone and Edwan decided not to show himself anymore. Since our job is to regularly observe all of our reintroduced orangutans, almost two months later at the end of August 2013, we observed Edwan again a little further downstream to the place where he was last seen. This time he was very busy building a lot of nests. To practice maybe? Who knows…
A few days later, in September, we stumbled upon Edwan by accident when observing Ebol, a female released on the 4th of August 2012. She´s about the same age as Edwan, but came to Nyaru Menteng when she was just two years old together with her mother (Mama Ebol). Many people here describe here as “Wah, cantik sekali!”, meaning that wow she´s very beautiful… in an orangutan kind of way of course. She has long hair and a very bright face with protruding lips and a round nose. I guess they would call a woman with the same characteristics cantik as well. Obviously Edwan was thinking the same thing, for he kept following Ebol around and if she was lagging behind he was looking back, making sure that she stayed with him. They were seen together a couple of more times that month, until the beginning of October, when Edwan was seen alone. He acted a bit grumpy; kiss-squeeking towards his observers. Who wouldn´t after losing a beautiful female like Ebol!
Luckily, Edwan and Ebol found each other again a few weeks later, on the 20th of October. They were peacefully eating together and following each other around, but in the weeks that followed Edwan was seen just a couple of times only by himself and being grumpy again.
As with every good soap-opera Edwan turned up on the 19th of November. This time he was close to Emen! Did he get tired of the pretty Ebol? We couldn´t know, because in the three months that followed we couldn´t pick up Edwan´s signal, nor Ebol´s. Then we got lucky at the beginning of February this year and recorded Ebol´s signal on one of the hills around Batikap.
In the days that followed, we tried looking for Ebol without any success, but on the 25th of February we suddenly picked up a close signal in a very swamp-like piece of forest near the crosspoint of the two earlier described rivers. We left the transect and stumbled through mud, all the while tripping over roots. Finally we found Ebol in a tree, eating some orange-like fruits with five pips in the middle that are unbelievably sour. She seemed to like them though and was happily dropping the left-overs around us, where they fell like tiny bombs on the ground. In the same tree we found another orangutan and of course it was Edwan… he had again found his pretty lady!
Text by: Anna van der Kaaden, Batikap Volunteer
Photos by: Ike Naya Silana