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Updates from the Last Chance to Paint team

Day 9 – Person of the Forest

Updated: Feb 18, 2021

It’s all about the monkey business today!

We woke up nice and early again, ready for the day ahead, to the sound of Gibbons calling to each other across the forest. We’ve been told that most mornings they call to each other, and it was incredible to hear them.

After posting yesterday’s video, via satellite, John set up to paint.

Yesterday we were shown a typical orangutan nest up in the trees in camp. Today John felt that he should paint a nighttime scene of the Orangutans in their nests, so he set up painting in the same place as yesterday, where he could view the orangutans, and the nest up in the trees.

When he had set up, I noticed some monkeys at the edge of camp. According to the team here, and our field guide, we were told they were Crab-eating Macaques (also known as Long-Tailed Macaques) and they were looking for fruit in the Ubar trees, just as the orangutans do. Overall they were probably 10-15 roaming around, trying to find food, and it was a magical moment to see these wild monkeys living their lives.

In the interim of John finishing his 1st painting and starting the 2nd, I took some photographs of the monkeys in the distance and the very obliging orangutan who was posing for me at the foot of a tree. This, much to my dismay, backfired on me, as the baby orangutan girl I had been photographing, mistaking me for one of the team here, ran towards me at speed and latched onto my legs hoping that I would carry her to her bed. Completely taken aback I sat there, as this orangutan held on for dear life, grabbing at our stuff – paints, waterbottle, pens and camera! It was incredible to be so close to one of these animals, in its natural habitat. Soon after, one of the team came and retrieved her and placed her back safely in her bed.

In John’s second painting today, he is painting the wonderful sight of the mother orangutan waking up the river, on two legs, arms in the air. She does this to retrieve any fruit she might see floating downstream, having fallen from trees. Yesterday she was lucky enough to find a whole jackfruit, and enjoyed sharing it with her baby.

Quick update on the fish in the river. We definitely won’t be washing in the river after this morning, when I saw an aquatic snake swim down it. Fish were the least of our worries!

This afternoon, we headed up river on the motorised long boat to Camp Gemini. This camp monitors the already released adult orangutans, and we went along to observe feeding time. Feeding time is there in case the orangutans are unable to find food in the day, or it acts as an extra snack! Today we saw 2 mothers with their babies at the feeding site, along with another young adult woman who was too timid to come out of the trees. Instead she did her business on the team members head, aka dumped on them from a great height!

We were informed that there is one dominant male in the area, who is relatively new, having won a territory battle with the previous dominant male. Each male occupies at least a 1kmx1km area, and this amount of space per male is crucial for the survival of the species. Therefore lots more land than one would think is needed. This is a big problem as their natural habitat continues to be cut down by industries such as palm oil.

Along with the Orangutans, we saw another large group of Crab-eating Macaques, swinging through the trees, feasting on the bananas which remained after the orangutans had had their share.

A full on day on monkey buisness concluded!

Martha-Lilly x

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