Camp Lesik has had a new visitor. The Post Release Monitoring (PRM) team recently observed an orangutan off the back of the camp. While we don’t yet know who this individual is, we can be certain that this visitor is a rehabilitated orangutan, as there is a visible transmitter implanted in their back.
After spotting our team members, the orangutan immediately left the camp area and moved deeper into the forest. A week later, the same orangutan was seen again around Camp Lesik, but this time not alone. The visitor was in the company of Lesan and her child. They appeared comfortable in one another’s company, indicating they had formed a close relationship. The unidentified orangutan followed Lesan and her child wherever they went.
While orangutans are semi-solitary and territorial individuals, some will still socialise with other orangutans, especially those who have undergone rehabilitation and spent time in Forest School groups. Social skills acquired in Forest School tend to increase the confidence of these individuals when they are released into the wild.
Orangutan DNA is very similar to that of humans, as are some of their social behaviours: Orangutans will also play, coerce, touch, hug, hold each other, and spend time together. Some of these behaviours were observed in the mystery orangutan when socialising with Lesan and her family. For example, the PRM team saw them eating and sharing palm fruit (Elaeis) and leaves (Adiantum peruvianum), with the unidentified orangutan even requesting fruit from Lesan!
After filling up on fruits and leaves, the group re-entered the forest and headed toward the Pehpan River. This new friendship is exciting news from our team based in the forest. Hopefully, in the future, many more orangutans will occupy the Kehje Sewen Forest.