Friendships always have their ups and downs. Interestingly, this also applies to orangutans. Desi and Kimi, two females, living on Juq Kehje Swen Island in East Kalimantan, are good friends known to have the occasional fight. Recently, they had another exciting tiff. Find out what was going on.
Located about 10 kilometres from the Kehje Sewen Forest, Juq Kehje Swen is a forested island covering an area of 82.84 hectares, utilised to accommodate orangutans undergoing the pre-release stage of rehabilitation. Desi is the only rehabilitated orangutan currently on the island; Kimi, meanwhile, is a wild orangutan who was found roaming in the area and crossed on to the island.
Our team’s observations indicate that the two female orangutans have formed a close friendship. When Desi is eating, Kimi will often approach and expect food. Desi is usually happy to oblige and will share.
She gets annoyed, though, with the nosy macaques in the forest. As mentioned in a previous story, these notorious monkeys often steal Desi’s food, especially when they move in groups. However, they don’t dare to do it when Kimi is around, as they have learnt that she becomes aggressive whenever she sees them.
We suspect that Desi has learned a trick or two about forest survival from Kimi, as seen from the increased variety of natural foods Desi has been consuming recently. During observations, our team has seen Desi eating Ficus racemose, or cluster figs. Before this, we had never known Desi to eat the fruits of this species, as she mostly depends on the food that the team delivers twice daily to the island.
However, the friendship dynamic between the two females shifted a little lately. At the time, our team was observing Desi as she devoured some bananas distributed by our team, with Kimi watching from a distance.
As Desi ate, Kimi swung over to her and quickly snatched a banana from her hand. With plenty of bananas still in her hands, Desi hardly reacted at first.
But Kimi seemed quite hungry; she quickly gobbled up the banana and then snatched another one from Desi’s hands. This happened a few times until Desi finally lost her cool.
She pinched Kimi’s arm in retaliation, and since this didn’t stop the wild female from reaching for more bananas, Desi quickly slapped Kimi’s arm so hard that she slipped from the branch.
Kimi, however, still would not give up! She again tried to take more food from Desi, and the two got caught up in a wrestling match over it, both trying to quickly devour any food they could get their hands on until all of it was gone!
The struggle quickly ended with no more food to fight over, and Kimi left Desi alone. Desi tried to follow, but the wild female was too fast for her. How naughty of Kimi to first steel Desi’s food and then leave her behind! Luckily, despite these thieving antics, the two are still best friends.