I fear for a future where the only way to see these beautiful animals is in zoos – it would be like only ever seeing whales in holding tanks or birds in cages too small for flight. Without the medium of the jungle they are cute pot bellied primates, in the jungle they soar.
Most of the orangutans who live in the forest around Bukit Lawang have suffered because of humans but only two of them openly show their dislike. Mina has bitten countless guides and tourists. Jackie doesn't bite, but occasionally she will leave the canopy and firmly take hold of a passing tourist, refusing to let go until paid with food. Our guides carried back packs with generous banana bribes, just in case. About half way through our day-long trek we stopped on a ridge to watch an orangutan in the canopy below us. As she started moving towards us Ari said, "That's Jackie," and frowned. Because of the fractured jungle light and the thick foliage it was...
Our trek finished with a hill so steep it felt like a cliff. We slid, half fell and climbed down backwards holding vines for support. When we returned to our guest house, tired out and muddy, we decided that a day when you get chased (but not caught) by an orangutan is a very good day indeed.