As I woke, the rain was smashing hard against the metal roof and the cicadas were playing high. It was my first night in Tuanan Research station and. I wondered if I had overslept. I could impossibly have heard any of my alarms in all this noise.
No, the time was 2:40. It was time to get up in 20 minutes. I sat on the bed edge and started to search for my headlight in the black room. To go up 3.00 in the night/morning is nothing that I am used to in. When I was in school I always overslept, things might get tough for me here, I thought as I put my headlight on. After a quick breakfast, we headed off in the rain, walking only in socks due to the slippery boards. We balanced through the night and I had to keep fully concentrated not to fall. And yet I fell – several times.
There were four of us arriving at the nest before dusk. Me, here as a volunteer, Julia and Eva, both doing her masters work on orangutans, and Idun, an Indonesian assistant. The heavy rain lightened with the sun, and I could for the first time in my life see an orangutan.
Actually, they were two. Kondor and Kahiyu, mother and daughter, swinging in the lianas. The sully, weak rain continued for many hours. Mother Kondor went to a tree with big leaves and pulled a branch until it snatched. In her hand she now had an umbrella, which she put over her head.
Towards midday the rain fully stopped. Relaxed and undisturbed by our presence Kondor climbed down to the ground. She stood just meters away with her baby daughter on her back.
She grabbed a log and broke the dead wood into pieces sucking out termites, while Kahiyu curiously watched. She took a small piece from her mother, trying herself but she wouldn’t get a hold of the technique yet and she spat the wood out on the ground. Suddenly Kondor raised up on all four, took a few steps behind a big plant, then she was gone.
As orangutan followers, we are supposed to follow then from dusk until dawn. We spent hours searching, but she was lost. To see an orangutan is fascinating. Although it’s the obvious truth, which I’ve known for years, reality is always better.
As I came back to camp I was soaked. My new, expensive rain jacket wouldn’t keep the rain at bay even a little. The forest is tough and challenging, and I walk with trouble over the water and leaf covered ground, where deep holes of mud are hiding where I least expect it.
I was exhausted towards the evening as I got back in camp. With rashes all over, insect bites and soar, wet skin, I went to bed. But the challenge of working with the orangutans has just begun. In the next post, I will examine the technique orangutans’ builds their nests, by climbing the tree canopies.
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This post sent through staff at the research station, travelling to the closest city. I don’t have internet connection myself. Comments are appreciated, but please bear with me that I cannot answer questions or comments directly (however they can be accepted and shown through my girlfriend).