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Updates from the Last Chance to Paint team

Day 8 – Person of the forest

Updated: Feb 18, 2021

Today we woke up in Lamandau Wildlife Reserve, excited for what was to come. It’s all about Orangutans here!

It was an early start, around 6am, to ensure we didn’t miss anything. This early start also meant that we were able to release our video via satellite! Yes it works!

At 7am the first set of baby orangutans were let out of their beds ready for breakfast. Here at the Orangutan Foundation, they aim to teach these orphaned orangutans how to care for themselves, find food, spot predators and make nests, before releasing them back into the wild. This process takes about 4 years and is slower than it would be in the wild, as they no longer have a mother to guide them and show them what to do.

This morning Timtom (Female, 3 1/2yrs) Mona (Female 3 1/2 yrs) and Adib (Male 3yrs) were allowed out for around 3hrs. The team here are able to recognise each orangutan by its face. Just the same way as we recognise each other. In the time they were allowed out, these babies climbed up the Ubar trees that grow around camp to find the Ubar fruit which are green balls, to feast on for breakfast.

It was amazing watching them swing from tree to tree, so natural, their bodies contorting every which way to allow them to climb easily.

John sat and painted 2 paintings today. He started with a painting of the scene playing out in front of him. Orangutans playing amongst the trees, eating the fruit, one of the workers here walking one, holding its hand, from the enclosure and some beautiful blue and black butterflies which were flying around us.

This morning was made extra special as an adult female orangutan, with its baby, arrived on the edge of camp. Having never seen a fully grown one it was an amazing sight but also slightly scary! John painted her and her child in the second painting he did today.

Having watched John paint everyday this trip, I decided that I might give it a go. I tried using, pencils, ink pens, and watercolours and found eventually that painting the orangutan directly was the easiest means of depicting it. My paintings went from absolutely terrible to much improved the longer I persisted and I eventually produced a painting which slightly resembled the orangutan I was trying to replicate!

This afternoon, the last 2 orangutans were allowed out, and they are now swinging from tree to tree much like the others were this morning. In the interim, whilst all orangutans were in their homes, the team here places branches and leaves in their enclosure to try and encourage the youngsters to learn how to build nests which they will need to do every evening in the wild. Most of what we saw was the babies poking the branches back out of their homes, onto the floor below. I’m sure they’ll learn soon enough!

John was going to wash in the river this evening, until he discovered that the fish bite anywhere they can! Instead he washed some clothes from the waters edge to ensure we don’t run out of clean clothes before the trip is up.

Maybe the fish will have gone tomorrow?

Martha-Lilly x

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