Lately I’ve been following flanged males a lot. These muscle pumped creatures are really astonishing, it can’t be said enough. During these follows I got to experience my first long call, as well as a snag crash which could have put my life to an end.
As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, males are way bigger than orangutan females (although some of the females also appear as huge). But the size is not all that differs the sexes apart. Males have their flanges which makes their head look like a plate, and then there are the long calls which males roar out over the forest.
I was out following a big flanged male Otto. The day started off as usual – green beans for breakfast and then some green beans for lunch. He seemed like a pretty calm fellow, except for the long calls which he made all the time.
I didn’t expect a long call to take my breath away, but the force and power they use is amazing. It starts with some grumbling sounds which you bearly notice, but then they get up, jump to the next tree and call with an immense force over the forest. The male make long calls as a sign of power in strength and rule. It’s a way of males telling each other where they are, so they can keep out of each other – or find each other to fight.
Many of the males really doesn’t like to be photographed. They will hide away behind bushes and branches just to avoid the paparazzis. But just like it is for any celebrity, there comes a time when they put their guard down and show their face while calmly resting. I saw my chance of taking a photo of Otto here. To be honest I had no clue that he disliked the camera so much – this was my first possibility of a face shot.
So I took a photo of him, but he looked away.
Damn, I thought as he started to move again. Apparently he doesn’t like the camera. I took the camera and watched the photo I had taken to evaluate if it was any good. I watch the colors…the sharpness…and then I heard a cracking noise over my head.
I lifted my head for a second, but then started to analyze the photo once more. Sharpness…
Then I heard this little doorbell in my head: What was it that people had told me? …Watch out for the males…hmm.. when they push dead trees over you!
I looked up and saw Otto ten meters right above, trying to push this huge dead log over me. My heart skipped a beat! Where should I run?
Where doyou run if you got a 500-1000 kg of wood falling right over you? When imagining this, it seems easy, you obviously run to the side. But the bush is dense with liana snares everywhere – the easiest way to run is back where you came from. Of course this was just in line with the tree.
Otto was too slow with the “snag crash”, and I escaped with an adrenaline rush. Once he had fallen the tree with a boom, he long called, and pushed another dead tree over. It was crazy.
I was also out one day following another male Henk. His snag crash wasn’t bad either. When a tree, about 1,5 meters around the trunk and 15 meters long, falls at your feet, the ground shakes like an earthquake and you realize that you better keep a watching eye on the orangutans even when they are at rest.
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