Why travel to nature when already work with nature?
That’s the question that people always asked when I have holiday. I have to be honest living as a environmental consultant as I always traveling to a place that maybe people never heard and make people envy. However, behind that shining fact I always miss my relax time in touristy place just like normal people. Reconnecting with nature is always be my first option for personal travel. Mountains, waterfalls and beaches are always be my interest to detox my clouded mind and wash away my spirit. Another alternative is also visiting national park to meet my interest on nature and science.
Earlier this May 2015, I went to Tanjung Puting National Park with Backpacker Borneo to conquer my curiosity on Orangutans. Even as a biologist like me within the place is a wealth of interest and intrigue. Tanjung Puting National Park is an in-situ conservation area to protect endangered species like Bornean Orangutans in its natural habitat. Tanjung Puting specifically Camp Leakey has been known long as a place for Orangutan rehabilitation program. It was built by one of Anthropologist Louis Leakey’s Trimates, Birute Galdikas, who pioneered the study of Orangutans while Jane Goodall – Chimpanzees and Dian Fossey – Gorillas.
Previously worked at local zoo in my hometown at Bandung, a place like Orangutans rehab actually always make me shivered. It is not the treatment but the sadness that you always can see in the face of the animals (or maybe I am just too sensitive). It is great education place for the society but for me there will be something missing and sad in between. Looking at these wildlife cannot back truly normal to natural forest, cause a bit pain for me. Orangutan feeding time that would be at least two times per trip is more than enough for me. Nevertheless, I must say impressed by how wildlife can interact each other. It gives real entertainment for whom almost never see (and rarely) direct in the wild. In the end of our journey, at Camp Leakey, we saw at least one Bornean agile gibbon (Hylobates albibarbis), group of wild boar (Sus barbatus), and of course the whole family of Orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) in one scene. They were chasing each another to get food which brought by the forest ranger. There was drama and comedy which we could learn and enjoy from nature. Even somehow how to find God which perfectly stated by The Guardian of Orangutan herself with simply walking in the forest.
As I sit, my back leaning against a damp, moss-covered tree trunk, my eyes sweeping the canopy above, my ears straining to catch the crack of a distant branch that betrays an orangutan moving in the treetops, I think about how we humans search for God. The tropical rain forest is the most complex thing an ordinary human can experience on this planet. A walk in the rain forest is a walk into the mind of God.
Photo is Siswi, a local female orangutan, with visitors who are ecstatic and terrified in the same time. It might be possible that she does not want human to leave her after the feeding time finished. Another scenario, human is happened blocking her way to the river for afternoon bathing time :D
Kalimantan: Walking with Orangutan at Tanjung Puting first appeared at www.felicialasmana.com