AYU, GROWING UP AND BOLD

Ayu the orangutan in a tree
6-year-old Ayu was born in the wild to the rehabilitated orangutans Lesan and Hamzah (presumed), who were both released in the Kehje Sewen Forest a decade ago. Young orangutans at Ayu’s age will slowly begin to separate from their mothers, and we are starting to see this from Ayu through her behaviour.

Before, when our Post-Release Monitoring (PRM) team observed Ayu in the forest, she was almost always by mother Lesan’s side. Until a few months ago, Ayu was often seen in Lesan’s arms, still breastfeeding occasionally.

Ayu is not scared of exploring the forest on her own

Ayu is not scared of exploring the forest on her own

However, in our PRM team’s latest observations of Ayu, she seemed to be more actively swinging back and forth in the trees, sometimes quite a distance away from Lesan. This distance would be considered quite risky for younger orangutans still learning from their mothers. However, since Ayu is maturing and approaching her sub-adult years, leaving her mother’s side is to be expected.

As Ayu matures, she is also starting to show her dislike for human presence, which is a positive sign. These days, when our PRM team members try to get close to record her behaviour, Ayu will often become angry and show her displeasure by breaking off branches and throwing them at her human observers below. Also, when Ayu and Lesan were recently spotted at the front of the camp, Ayu became visibly upset when she saw our camp personnel watching her from a distance.

These displays of defensiveness are a positive sign from Ayu, as they show us she is almost ready to live independently in the wild. We are happy to see her progress and can’t wait to see what adventures she gets up to on her own in the forest.

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