August 22- September 2, 2022
There are lots of reasons to visit Borneo. But one of the main reasons is to see orangutans. Those big, furry orange/red creatures. My friend Ruthi and I traveled with Natural Habitat Adventures (@NaturalHabitatAdventures) exactly for this reason, I with my two OM System D-E M1 Mark III camera bodies, one with an Olympus 12-100 f4 lens and the other with an Olympus 100-400 f5.6 lens. It was a 12-day trip all around the country, guided by Expedition Leader Harsha Jayaramaiah and local guide Bedley Asun. There are posts on Kuching and other cities. There are posts on other animals we saw. But this post is all about orangutans.
Orangutans are great apes, of which there are three types: Bornean, Sumatran and Tapanuli. We, of course, were searching for the Bornean. But before I get into our adventures, here is some background on these magnificent apes (as usual, probably more than you ever wanted to know…).
The name orangutan comes from the Malay language and means “man of the forest” (orang meaning person and hutan meaning forest).
The Bornean orangutans are critically endangered with only about 105,000 left. Bornean orangutan populations have declined by more than 50% over the past 60 years, and the species’ habitat has been reduced by at least 55% over the past 20 years. The severe decline in the population is primarily due to us humans who poached them for bushmeat (a practice which decreased once children were taught in schools about the importance of conservation and they then educated their parents), killed them in retaliation for consuming crops, illegal pet trade, and perhaps most importantly, due to habitat destruction and deforestation for logging and palm oil cultivation (more on this later).