Following the fruit

It’s raining today, and anyway I thought you’d like a break from bug posts, so I’ve pulled this one out of my files.

A couple of months ago I posted pictures of birds and monkeys gorging on fresh fruit. This is a codicil.

In the rain forest, different trees fruit at different times, and so fructivores move through the canopy until they find a fecund tree, and settle in until they have stripped it. The tall tree in the background is such a tree, in Borneo in 2015. If you look closely there are two dark blobs near the top, and those are foraging orangutans:


Borneo is depressingly hazy from the smoke created by fires burning down the rain forest for palm oil plantations, so these photos are taken at a huge distance, in the haze, but I thought you would enjoy them anyway. We were very lucky, this is close to our lodge, but in the forest, not a rescue centre, so they are still roaming in the true wild.

Adult orangutans are solitary, but of course the young stay with the mother for several years. Mama is picking fruit, while he hangs out; this time I can be confident that I am using the right gender pronouns.


Personally, I would have left the kid home with the sitter. It is a long way to fall, but for him (and his mother) it is just another lackadaisical day hanging out in the trees. They use all four limbs interchangeably for locomotion: this photo is taken in a rehabilitation centre for young orphans, and you can see the hands and feet more clearly:


Back in the trees, the fruit is clearly delicious: this is a young male, in the same tree.


He kept his distance from the mother and baby, though our guide thought he was not only hungry but also interested in the female, who did not seem to reciprocate.

In this video, you can just see how she moves calmly, with the baby on her front, picking fruit. She rubs the fruit against the tree-trunk, I am not sure why. At at the end you can also see the young male. Apologies for the noises off, made by other transfixed visitors.


Bornean Orangutans are now classified as Endangered. Their population has dropped by more than half between 1999 and 2015, and it is still dropping fast.  The main cause is habitat loss, caused by logging and oil palm plantations. And a female has a baby only about every seven years, so let’s hope the one in my photo survives. A good summary can be read here:

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