Both the weather and time this morning was more humane then yesterday. I woke up at six, ate some rice and tofu for breakfast. Anna (my supervisor), Tono (Indonesian assistant) and I headed off to search for trees with nests possible to climb. It’s a science to know which tree’s you may climb and which you can’t. All trees with nests could possibly hold for a human, if they hold for an orangutan – but they are also of course more skilled distributing their weights on the tree. Trunk thickness is not all that matters, some species breaks more easily than others and to a large extent Anna (and I) rely on the local assistants’ knowledge on this matter.
In the footsteps of Anna, I avoided the worst mud-traps, letting me stay almost dry. Dry from water that will say. Sweat was pouring like rain instead. However everything was fine ‘til we got to the tree which I was going to climb.
Anna first gave me an instruction-climb, explaining me how to do things safely. All that is needed is a harness, three sling-ropes of about 1 meter and a few carbines. Two slings gets attached to the trunk, one for the harness and one for the foot (see picture of the sling rope attached to a pole). Then you just pull yourself up, easy!
No, seriously. This was one of the most exhausting things I’ve done. I was pushing, and pushing, and…I was 1-2 meters up. The height of the tree to climb was about 20 meters, and the higher I got, the more the trunks started to swing back and forth to my movements.
Halfway up I notice something vigorously twisting and turning just next to my hand. A decimeter long centipede.
Although centipedes are one of those animals which I’ve always wanted to see, that is under the circumstance that I’m not 8 meters up hanging, forced to grab it with my bare hands to prevent it from crawling in under my shirt. I just DON’T want to get stinged. Many centipedes, especially in tropical regions, have a powerful poison which will cause an awful pain.
Actually I managed to blow it off the trunk, as the coward I am. I continued upwards, stronger by the adrenaline in my veins. At this point the trunk was dividing in two, one to climb for me and one for Anna. This way I could watch her as she dissected the orangutans sleeping nest (In most cases, orangutans does not reuse their nests, so this is not disturbing them). Anna climbed the tree about 20 minutes, while it took me 150. Two and a half hour of full concentration, I was truly exhausted but I had only come halfway, next I had to go down. However, to sway in the canopy with view over the swamp forest is truly a reward. The wind blew in my face and I could get a moment of relaxation as Anna was resting in the orangutan nest while waiting for me.
The nest got dissected and we found that it contained a nice pillow and a mattress. Awesome!
Climbing down was less time consuming and easier but when I was finished, I was more soaked from sweat than after a bath.
Now I will get a resting day, since every part of my body aches! It might take a few weeks until my next post will be ready to put up.
This blog about working with orangutans and other highly endangered species, is new started and followed by very few. It’s a high probability that you got to this page through a reblog. If you think that conservation is important – remember that you can also reblog this! It’s highly appreciated.
This post was 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).