Orangutans of Borneo

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ZOOM--03-K-2I first made my way to Borneo(Kalimantan) in 1992 alone on a 3 week exploratory Journey of Camp Leaky and the Orangutan reserve, and how I would create a quintessential jungle experience for fellow travelers.

It all began with a flight to Pangkalanbun, where I was transferred to a jungle boat ala Into the heart of Darkness for my ride into the
rain forest and the Jungle Lodge that was to be my base for the next few weeks.

It was not long before the magic of the Jungle took me into its world, a world inhabited by monitor lizards, crocodiles, crab eating macaque monkeys and the beautiful Proboscis monkeys with their long flowing white tails, huge noses, playfulness and ability to swim.  Great hornbill birds flew overhead and the voice of the jungle was strong.  I remember the distinct feeling of coming home into a primal world where I was in the minority to be sure.

The next morning I was up very early to the call of monkeys in the rain forest. I was about to go into a part of the jungle to experience what I later began calling Across the Boundaries, the boundary between human and animal inter action.

I arrived at Camp Leaky a place established in the center of the Orangutan Habitat by Birute Galdikas a student of Louis Leaky. Placed where the river meets the jungle in the middle of the natural Orangutan habitat, it was established so that Orangutans who were orphaned or had been held in captivity could be slowly rehabilitated back into the forest.

Orang-Utan literally means Man of the Forest for in days long past, they were thought by other tribal people to be a unique hairy tribe of people inhabiting the deeper reaches of the forest. I made long walks into the forest and when I was lucky encountered wild Orangutans on a number of occasions.

Afternoons were feeding time, mostly for mothers and their babies and the orphans though you never knew who would show up from the forest. The best for me was yet to come.

One afternoon Kosashi, the soon to be king of the rain forest showed up. Somehow I befriended him, and he came to trust me. He was still a “teenager” at the time, and the old king used to pick on him and run him off, not a wise move. Over a couple of years I watched him grow and each time I came was able to have very close inter action with him. He became a “friend”, a friend from another species another world.

I was there on the fateful day that Kosashi had grown strong enough to hold his own against the old king, and a series of fights ensued, that lasted a few days, from which Kosashi became King.

I still travel sometimes with small groups into the rain forest. Please let me know if you are interested in this experience and with enough travelers we shall put together a group. I hope you enjoy some of my photos from my travels there.