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Saturday, 07 February 2009

Camp Leakey Orangutan Preserve: Kalimantan, Borneo - Page 3

Written by Pat Drinkwater
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Kalimantan, the Indonesian portion of the island of Borneo, is known for two main attractions that draw curious travelers to its shores. One, Kalimantan is Joseph Conrad country -- The land of rivers where his romantic stories of Lord Jim and Tom Lingard, Kaspar Almayer and Axel Heist, took place.  It was a much different Borneo in those days but there are still plaques everywhere telling visitors that they were standing where Lord Jim once stood.  The second appeal to visitors is that Kalimantan is also home to the only red-haired primates in the world. My interest in Kalimantan? Nothing against Joseph Conrad, but I went for the Orangutans.

The same day it started raining and we watched several babies gathering up leaves to cover themselves and their mothers.  Tom, the alpha male, was under the gazebo with a female taking a nap.  About ten visitors were huddled under the roof staying dry and watching Tom. Everything was peaceful at the preserve until Tom began showing off. Without reason, he got up and started throwing around the very heavy wood table and chairs.  The staff noticed that another male had made itself visible -- Tom’s behavior was getting out of control and he had to be subdued.  A member of the staff took a large stick and started beating it on the ground in front of Tom.  Tom noticed the stick, reacted a little, but did not stop his ranting.  The staff member yelled to someone in the house behind us and another Camp Leaky park official came running out with the heavy artillery…a slingshot.  Immediately, Tom stopped and ran into the underbrush.  We were so amused that no one noticed the female had come up and was standing with us under the roof staying dry from the rain.


Soon enough the rain stopped and it was time to head back to the river and continue back to our sailboat in the harbor.  In the soft light of the sinking sun we could see the trees full of proboscis monkeys (called Dutch monkeys by the locals because of their large, curved, impressive noses.)

Since my trip, I have told many of my friends that Bob had always wanted to hold an orangutan.  When we returned to our boat he confided in me that after seeing these powerful, wild creatures he was happy he didn’t. It is best to look and admire from afar.

For information about volunteering with orangutans:

If you see a caged orangutan go to the website and post a complaint.

©Pat Drinkwater is on the cruise of her lifetime.  She is traveling around the world on a 35’ sailboat and has memorable experiences every day.  This is not a vacation it is an adventure.

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Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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