Thursday, December 29, 2011

Tanjung Puting : Orangutans, the only non-human great ape found in Asia .

Tracing the evolution of Darwin's footsteps, then you will be confronted with a creature called as part of the evolution, ORANGUTAN (say oh-oo-RANG-tan). Orangutans are the only non-human great ape found in Asia, and were once widespread throughout most of the south east of the continent, and even as far as southern China. Today, two species of orangutan exist, on the island of Borneo, which is shared between Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei-Darussalam, and the wholly Indonesian island of Sumatra. Considered endangered in Borneo, where most recent estimates put the population at around 6.000. The name Orangutan means "man of the forest" in Malay. Orangutans can grow up to five feet tall, but males are usually 4 feet tall and females are 3 feet. They have an arm span of 8 feet when full grown. The adult male orangutan can weigh up to 220 lbs. and an adult female can weigh up to 110 lbs. They are heavily built and their arms are very long and lanky, but their legs are short and weak.

orangutan family
Orangutan Family

The earliest-known primates date from about 70 million years ago (Macdonald, 1985). The greater apes (family Pongidae, gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos, and orangutans) split off from the lesser apes (family Hylobatidae, gibbons and siamangs) 20 million years ago. There are 2 different types of adult male orangutan: "flanged" & "unflanged". Flanged males have a long coat of dark hair on the back, a facial disk, flanges and a throat sac used for “long calls". The unflanged male looks like an adult female. Both reproduce and an unflanged male can change to a flanged male for reasons that are not yet fully understood.

Orangutans are the only primate in which this biological phenomenon occurs. Some scientists think that these two groups of orangutans are different subspecies (a subdivision of a species), others think that they are not. Since these two groups of orangutans have been geographically separated for a long time, they are now physically distinct from each other. They are not different species since they are genetically similar enough to interbreed.

orangutan classification
Orangutan Classification
Orangutans belong to the:
Kingdom Animalia (all animals)
Phylum Chordata
Subphylum Vertebrata (animals with backbones)
Class Mammalia (warm-blooded animals with fur and mammary glands)
Order Primates (which includes 11 families, which include lemurs, monkeys, marmosets, lesser apes, great apes, and humans)
Family Pongidae (the great apes, including gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos, and orangutans)
Genus Pongo (gorillas and orangutans)
Species pygmaeus
Subspecies (perhaps a subspecies) P. p. pygmaeus (with a round face and dark red hair; found in Borneo)
Subspecies (perhaps a subspecies) P. p. abelii (with a narrow face and paler hair; found in Sumatra)

If you want to see and learn about orangutans closer you can visit Tanjung Puting National Park, Central Kalimantan. Located in the peninsula on the south coast of the world's third largest tropical rain forest of Borneo, in Indonesian province of Central Kalimantan, the park consist of 300.040 hectares (741,100 acres).

Started as a game reserve for the protection of orangutans in 1936 and 1937, it was upgraded to a National Park in 1982. It is the only protected area in South East Asia with vast tract of wetlands, lowland, mature tropical heath and swamp Forests with large rookeries that provide breeding grounds for a wide population of waterfowl. The needs of Orangutans and other primates are also available in the park, such as the 400 species of trees which van be consumed by them.

orangutan behind the treesorangutan hang on the tree

The national park managed into 3 zonation system, namely Nucleus Zone, Buffer or Supporting zone and the last one, is the Utilization zone. The most inner part of the park, where the most animals are (usually) or the very inique and rare plants are availble, never allowed to be entered by the visitors, unless they gain special permit for research or alike.

This zone also called as nucleus zone. The only people who allowed to enter the site will be the researchers, national park authorities, or alike. No other common peoples allowed to enter the site. The nucleus zone usually coveres the most inner part of the reserve.

Secondly is the BUFFER ZONE. It is separating the nucleus zone from the other untilization zone. This place also called as the "shock" absorber between the utilization zone and the nucelus zone. Here we can make some visit through the available path only, with an obligation to be accompanied by the national park ranger. Certain and strick regulation for visitors to walk or trekking is applied. The buffer zone usually encircle the nucleus zone.

The last one is the Utilization zone. This zone is the site for the visitors, here the accommodation, the park office, the ranger house, visitors centre and other related infrastructers are available. This can be the site for the park warf, or car park for the park ranger and else. This utilization zone usually covers a tiny part of a national park, and usually lies on the edge of a park, or just on the road side, or else. Here, we can make a visit with some permit regulation. This utilization zone is the main base camp for the visitors to enter and to stay on.

camp leakeytrip to the national park


Located about 30 minutes to the right from the branch of Sekonyer river. Camp Leakey is in the Tanjung Puting National Park in southern Borneo, and was set up in 1971 by Louis Leakey to support research activities in Tanjung Puting Wildlife Reserve. Louis Leakey was both teacher and mentor for three young primatologists who would go on to become well known in their field and beyond. Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey were two, who went on to become known worldwide for their work with chimpanzees and gorillas respectively. The third, Birute Galdikas went on to become the leading Authority on orangutans and remains so to this day as president of the Orangutan Foundation International.

Camp Leakey also functions as orangutans rehabilitation center. The Camp and surrounding area is designated as a special utility zone. Over the years, the camp has served the research efforts of several scientist and students. Tourist will be able to walk on certain trails of the trail system without disturbing the research activities. On the way to Camp Leakey (on Sekonyer Simpang Kanan river), you may occasionally see crocodiles and the false gavials.

Orangutans quick facts

-.Orangutans’ arms stretch out longer than their bodies – up to 8 ft. from fingertip to fingertip in the case of very large males.

-.When on the ground, orangutans walk on all fours, using their palms or fists. Unlike the African apes, orangutans are not morphologically built to be knuckle-walkers.

-.From the age of thirteen years (usually in captivity) past the age of thirty, males may develop flanges and large size.

-.When males are fighting, they charge each other, grapple, and bite each other’s heads and cheekpads. They sometimes look like Sumo wrestlers.

-.For the first few years of his/her life, a young orangutan holds tight to his/her mother’s body as she moves through the forest canopy.

-.Like humans, orangutans have opposible thumbs. Their big toes are also opposible. Unlike humans, approximately one third of all orangutans do not have nails on their big toes.

-.Orangutans have tremendous strength, which enables them to brachiate and hang upside-down from branches for long periods of time to retrieve fruit and eat young leaves.

-.Although in the wild, females usually give birth to their first offspring when they are 15-16 years of age, in captivity females as young as eight years old have given birth. Likewise male orangutans in captivity as young as eight years old have fathered offspring

tanjung puting maporangutan child

How to get there

Arrive at Pangkalan Bun, West Kotawaringin, visitors can go directly to Kumai Port to cross over to Tanjung Putting. If you have a long time, a minimum of two days one night, you may prefer kelotok boat with a capacity of 10 people with rate Rp 400,000 to Rp 1 000.000 per day. For a short visit, can use fast boats (speedboats) with a capacity of three passengers. The fee was around Rp 500,000 each way. The trip is only about an hour.

Travel Tips

-. If you want to visit the Tanjung Putting area that has more than 400,000 acres, It's recommend to planned better. If you want to make it as easy trip, you can use the services of tour operators.

-. If you leave early from Kumai, better stop by first to Camp Pondok Tanggui. At 09.00, there are attractions to the orangutan feeding.
-. Do not bring flashy stuff and hanging as it will greatly attract the attention orangutans.

-. Do not tries to swim in the River Sekonyer, because it is inhabited by large-bodied estuarine crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) and crocodiles sinyulong (Tomistoma schlegelii) are almost extinct.

-. It is recommended to avoid giving food / beverage or any objects to the orangutans because they can change their behavior.

-. Use long-sleeved shirt to avoid insect bites.

-. make sure the camera with a full battery condition and enough memory card so they can maximize every moment that you would not get elsewhere.

-. If you want to find a souvenir, can stop by the village Sei Sekonyer to find shirts or statues orangutans of Borneo and other typical souvenirs.

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