Tanjung Puting National Park – Orangutans
We boarded the boat locally called Klotok (from the engine sound) and excellent lunch was served, after which relaxing siesta followed, on a deck of a slow boat, on a soft mattress, in the middle of the jungle, surrounded by silence. I was woken up by a shout “wild orangutan”. That was the first one we saw – he also was having siesta high up on the tree.
There are 3 feeding stations in the park.
Camp Leakey – the first feeding station established in 1971 by Dr Birute Galdikas. Feeding takes place everyday at 2 pm. There is a small information centre showing genealogy tree of the ex-captive orangutan families. The first exhibitant (mieszkaniec) of that camp welcomed us on the way to the forest. It was the strongest female in the group, also the friendliest and most familiar to people. Siswi – a 34 years old female orangutan was very welcoming especially to me. She immediately began checking my trousers’ pockets for some snacks (tourists cannot bring any food to the forest however I completely forgot that I had some menthol delights with me which she spotted immediately). Later she was completely spoiled by other tourist – she sat na pomoscie holding a red umbrella and drinking water from a cup like a royal lady surrounded by paparazzi.
Apart from Siswi we saw 13 orangutans there that came for food. All were mostly mothers with babies but later a young male arrived. The dominating male of this group Tom – was nowhere to be seen. A little gossip from his private life says that 2 weeks earlier he was seen having fight with a wild orangutan but he lost to him. We were told that he was probably licking his wounds and building his strength.
The other main attraction in Camp Leakey was an ex-captive, therefore not very shy towards human, gibbon called Boy who comes to the feeding station occasionally.
Tanjung Harapan – set up in 1983 but orangutans were realised there in 1991. Yani is the dominating male with massive cheeks as to his status in the group, he welcomed us hanging on the tree just by the path. Apart from Yani we saw 8 orangutans there, mostly mothers with babies.
Pondog Tanggui – the newest feeding station set up in 1996. Feeding takes place at 9am. Cheap bananas, sugar cane and cow’s milk are on the daily menu in each station – this is highly nutrition food for the orangutans. Wild orangutans survive on seasonal fruits and termites. They are skinnier than the ex-captive, feed ones and have big bellies as they eat a lot but less nutritious food.
We’ve heard there are plans for setting up 4th feeding station in the future as there are orangutans seeking home but due to current capacities of all feeding stations it is not possible to introduce more of them to the wildlife. There are few international organisations and charities all around the world supporting the Borneo and Sumatran orangutans. It’s a shame that the money tourists pay for the entrance to the national park doesn’t go to support the park and the park’s rangers. Apparently all the money goes to the Indonesian government.