Photographing the Bornean Orangutan with Dr. Birute Galdikas

December 16, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

I have just returned from Borneo, where I had the wonderful opportunity to photograph the Bornean orangutans in their natural habitat.  The Bornean orangutan, Pongo pygmaeus, is a species of orangutan native to the island of Borneo in Indonesia. Together with the Sumatran orangutan, it belongs to the only genus of great apes native to Asia.  Orangutans share approximately 97% of their DNA with humans.  I photographed this alpha male orangutan in Tanjung Puting National Park while drinking tea with Dr. Birute Galdikas on her porch at Camp Leakey.  Dr. Galdikas is a primatologist, conservationist, ethologist, and author of several books relating to the endangered orangutan, particularly the Bornean orangutan. She is also known for the documentary film, BORN TO BE WILD and is founder of The Orangutan Foundation, a non-profit organization established to preserve this species.  The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the Bornean orangutan as Endangered.  Palm oil plantations are their primary threat, due to habitat destruction and hunting of these animals to prevent their encroachment onto the plantations.  The care center for Orangutans in Borneo currently has 330 that were orphaned.  Almost all of their mothers were slaughtered by palm oil plantation workers.  The lucky ones were brought to the care center as young babies, traumatized and sometimes injured.  Currently, due to the wide destruction of their jungle to make clearance for palm oil, there is no longer enough of their natural habitat available to release them back into the wild.  More information about the organization founded by Dr. Galdikas to save these animals may be found at The Orangutan Foundation's Web site at http://www.orangutan.org .


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