Category: Borneo

Orphan Orangutan – Part 1

Volunteering on the Orangutan Project

Camp Leakey, Borneo – 1984

David and DavidaA baby orangutan lay curled in the fetal position on the grass by the banks of the Sekonyer Kanin River. She’d lived in a cage in someone’s back yard for two years. Her mother had been killed by poachers and eaten so she could be sold for as little as $20. It was likely the orphan had witnessed the traumatic event. Now she was sick and her human owners no longer wanted her. She’d lost two families in three short years. She had a fever and wasn’t responding when touched.

It was the summer of 1984 and David and I were members of a 10-person EarthWatch volunteer team. We’d arrived the night before in the town nearest the project, Pangkalan Bun.  We were there to work on the Orangutan Project in the Tanjung Puting Reserve in Central Borneo. Two of our volunteers were zookeepers. One of them said, “When see orangutans this sick at the zoo; they rarely survived for more than a few days.”

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