|Top photo: Adult female Orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) chilling on an electrical cable. Above: Stretching it out. The resemblance to people is incredible. *** All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them. ***|
|Top photo: Coralling the tourists before the big show. Not much helpful or interesting info was provided. Above: Onward march.|
|Top photo: I love ridiculous green washing signs! Above: The first sight we had of the female carrying her kid on her back.|
|The youngster putting on a show with its plastic bottle while all of us snap away below.|
What sucks is that the guided trips to see these wild orangs are the people you should support with your tourist dollars. Local guides and communities who are helping preserve the habitat and fight for conservation in a state that badly needs it (with only 3% left you don’t have much to lose). But alas, this one we would sit out. I told Alli I’d settle for Semenggoh. She told me why we shouldn’t go. I processed it and had my qualms, but I wanted to see it anyway to experience the hackneyed display. Very quickly I learned she was spot on. The reasons follow.
When rainforest is getting ravaged orangutans are found. These creatures don’t like to go to ground as they spend almost all their time up top in the trees. The found orangs are gathered up and then sent off to a reserve such as Semenggoh. Maybe some also get recovered from the black-market wildlife trade. Semenggoh is only 653 hectares. Anyone remember how many acres or square miles to a hectare? Me neither. Thanks again Internet. This reserve constitutes 1,614 acres or 2.52 square miles. Small change. For all my desert folks out there, in comparison the Tucson Mountain District of Saguaro National Park (you know, the park whose main entrance is just past the Desert Museum) is about 24,000 acres or 37.5 square miles. By no means is TMD considered a ‘sizeable’ national park. Semenggoh is not even twice as big as Tumamoc Hill in Tucson.
|Get why is feels like a zoo?|
Orangutans can continue to live; tourists are placated and satisfied; and logging and monoculture keep moving on unabated. By showing up with our Ringgit to pay and my camera ready to go gonzo for orang, we are partly complicit in the miserable slide of Borneo’s rainforest and orangutans into the annals of history. Whoa, that was a loaded, dramatic sentence. What I’m trying to get at here is that these orangutans are one baby step above a zoo population. They’re not playing their ecological roles in the forest, they’re playing their entertainment roles, just like in the kissing poster I observed at Kubah.
|I love this photo. These apes are beyond agile.|
More photos of the whole experience can be found below: