We have just renewed our adoption for orangutans Chikita and Gelison for another three years, and this journey with them has proved to be one that is worthwhile. We have been adopting both orangutans since 2014 and though there are all the way at the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre (SOURC), Orangutan Appeal UK sends us bi-yearly updates about the two.
Just recently, we received some very delightful updates about these two ginger apes and thought we should share with you how they’re doing.
At 7 years old, Chikita has really started to grow up over the last 6 months and it seems, she finally understands what is required of her if she is to survive in the forest.
In the Outdoor Nursery at Sepilok, the young orangutans are able to roam the Kabili reserve as they please and many of the juveniles will stay out in the trees overnight, too busy investigating to come back to the Centre. Recently Chikita set off to explore the rainforest but she was clearly enjoying herself too much as her adventures lasted rather longer than a night or two! The rangers searched for her every day for two weeks but she was nowhere to be found! Chikita eventually returned to the Centre after being away for almost a month, but we are delighted to say she was healthy and unharmed, although she had lost a little weight. Sepilok’s experienced Veterinarian gave Chikita a thorough check-up but determined that her weight-loss was most likely due to the additional exercise Chikita was doing, swinging through the trees and foraging for her own food.
Wild orangutans spend a lot of their time searching for edible fruits and leaves, moving through the forest to find the trees with the tastiest meals. Chikita has obviously been putting these skills into practice, which is a great sign that she has been paying attention to the behaviour of the wild and semi-wild orangutans who sometimes visit the Nursery. When she was younger, bananas were Chikita’s favourite food, but now that she has started mimicking the older orangutans and experimenting with different options, she much prefers darker greens and leaves just like the ones she will, one day, rely on to survive in the rainforest. Chikita’s journey into the reserve has given her a valuable opportunity to test her knowledge of the types of plant she can eat, and her lessons have clearly paid off.
This young orangutan has come so far in the last few months. If she refines the skills she has learnt, will she soon be ready to start her life in the wild? We will be waiting to find out!
Gelison UpdatesGelison, who has been at Sepilok since his rescue in 2010, is progressing very well through his rehabilitation journey and is really starting to master the skills that will help him in his future life in the forest.
Always a happy and relaxed orangutan, Gelison has been taking everything in his stride and especially enjoys his time exploring the trees in the Kabili Reserve, which is next to the Outdoor Nursery where Gelison lives. The other orangutans seem to pick up on this positive energy as even the large female orangutans in the reserve, who can be quite protective of their babies, are friendly and welcoming towards Gelison.
When Mariko and her baby Peba visit the Outdoor Nursery, Gelison seems to especially enjoy their company and he is often spotted following them back into the forest. Despite Gelison’s obvious enthusiasm, Mariko must travel too fast for him to be able to keep up as he often struggles to find his way back to the Nursery when he loses sight of his friend! Having a good memory is vital for orangutans in the wild. Research has shown that orangutans are able to remember certain things nearly as well as humans. By the time they are 10 years old, many orangutans can remember hundreds of types of fruit and can remember the locations of edible trees throughout the forest. Gelison’s memory may still need time to develop further but his willingness to explore certainly makes up for this.
When he isn’t swinging through the trees, Gelison makes the most of every opportunity to sit and pick up some vital skills by mimicking what the other orangutans are doing. Recently, the youngsters were given some coconuts to eat and set the task of opening the tough husks to get to the fruit inside. Although Gelison watched the others intently, he couldn’t seem to master the technique of opening his own. Nevertheless, Gelison wasn’t going to miss out on the fun! When Beryl had finally cracked her way into her coconut, Gelison snuck up behind her and stole it! Gelison’s victory didn’t last long however, as a tenacious macaque who was under the platform popped out and took the coconut when Gelison wasn’t looking. Poor Gelison looked so bewildered when he discovered his prize had disappeared!
Being able to get into the hard outer layers of fruit is very important for an orangutan in the wild, and having the knowledge to use tools can be a great help. Orangutans are known to use several tools to assist them in the challenges they may face, such as using branches to swat away insects and scrunching up leaves to soak up water from holes in trees. By learning from older orangutans, and experimenting for himself, he should soon learn to perfect these essential skills.
Gelison’s confidence and enthusiasm is invaluable in helping him on his journey back to the rainforest. Could his future in the trees be close at hand? Let’s wait and see …
Our Other Adopted Wildlife
Besides adopting Chikita and Gelison, we have also adopted a sun bear by the name of Bintang through the My Bear Adoption Programme. Bintang is currently being taken care of at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) in Sepilok. We have also adopted Nicky the bottle-nose dolphin from the Dolphin Discovery Centre in Bunbury Western Australia.
You can find out more about them here!
Our other conservation efforts also includes adopting turtle nests at Selingan Turtle Island through the Turtle Nest Adoption Program.