Orangutans, much like their human relatives, each have their own unique personality. Some are friendly and have a playful character, while others are more serious or aloof and like to be left alone. Malika, a 5-year-old Forest School student at the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in Central Kalimantan, is a bit of a loner.
On most days, Malika will spend time on her own, engrossed in a task, while her peers from Group 4 are off doing other things. One of those days, she was plucking and tasting some leaves near a rotting tree trunk. Suddenly, something caught her attention. She stopped eating, got up, and approached a tree, leaving behind the leaves she was chewing. Malika grabbed a twig and hit it a few times against the rotten tree trunk. Then, rather comically, she quickly hugged herself and moved away from the tree.
But her curiosity soon beat out her fear, and she returned to the trunk to tap it again, this time more cautiously. Suddenly, a humming sound could be heard coming from the rotting trunk, which had holes in it the size of marbles. Malika gave only a slight reaction, as though she was weighing up potential risks.
It was obvious that she was intrigued by the sound. She tapped the tree repeatedly, and soon we could see what all the fuss was about: disturbed by the tapping, a large beetle flew out of the trunk. The mystery of the strange humming that had caught Malika’s attention was finally solved. Malika watched the beetle escape and fly away, then she returned to her earlier activity, chewing leaves.
Although Malika is somewhat of a loner, she is still one of the most curious members of Group 4. We hope that the experiences she has on her own will help to further develop her survival skills and natural behaviours, so she can someday explore her true home in the Bornean rainforest.