Visiting with Orangutans at Pondok Tanggui National Park
During our Borneo Expedition we visited a rehabilitation center feeding station at Pondok Tanggui before traveling on to the highlight of the trip, Camp Leakey. It was about an hour’s drive (boat ride) to the first camp and we repeated the trek of the previous day, minus the muddy bogs. The walkways were elevated for the most part and the 20 minute walk was very nice.
One of the naturalists was with our group and on the way he pointed out a “pitcher plant,” a carnivorous plant. Their prey is usually insects, which are attracted by the bright color, sugary nectar and sometimes a sweet scent. They climb up the plant and encounter a slick, waxy coating, making escape almost impossible. They then fall to the bottom, which is filled with a fluid produced by the plant and used to drown the prey.
Once everyone had arrived at the site, it took about 15 minutes for the rangers to arrive with the bananas. While we were waiting, a large male was spotted in one of the trees above us and seemed very content to pose for pictures.
Someone asked why the orangutans are fed only bananas and the answer is that the rangers want them to become “bored” with the same diet so that they will begin to forage for other food in the jungle. This is a part of their rehabilitation.
After about 45 minutes of watching the feeding, we walked back to the dock and re-boarded the boats for the two hour trip further up the Senoyer River. Soon we took a small tributary called the Black River, which was even narrower and really “black.” The water is actually clear, but looks black because of all the tannins from the trees and vegetation.
Although it was only about 10:30 or 11:00, we were served lunch since we had had such an early start. There were noodles, which we have grown to love, as well as rice, a tofu dish and some fish and chicken. Also lots of watermelon and honeydew slices.
The trip was very relaxing and quiet except for the thump of the 2-cycle engine. Occasionally, the waterway would become so narrow that we would scrape against some of the trees and the crew had to push us off. We continued our journey up the river, headed for our next destination, Camp Leakey.