Written by Caitlin Cant
I am now three months into my stay here in Central Kalimantan – the time has flown by so fast! The forest has changed a lot since I first arrived back at the start of October. The frequent heavy rain showers and thunderstorms have caused the water level in the forest to rise dramatically! It is now possible to get the klotok (canoe-like boat) practically all the way into camp, whereas before you had to travel the final distance on the rickety little ‘lorry’.
Inside the forest itself, many of the transects we walk along have transformed into canals where the water can be waist deep in places! This makes walking a challenge and more often than not I end up getting completely soaked! However, the vibrant copper-red colour of the peat-swamp water dazzles brilliantly in the sunlight and the whole forest feels and looks much more healthy and beautiful.
I have now been out on many orangutan follows, observing a variety of different individuals and behaviours. I have been trained on how to take GPS data when following and how to input data onto the laptop back in the office. Now I am to start learning how to take the main data when following an orangutan, which involves recording factors such as what they are doing (i.e. feeding, resting, travelling etc.), how far they have travelled, and how high up the tree they are.
After a relaxing break for Christmas and New Year I was especially excited to get back into the forest and to see the orangutans again as well as all of the other forest inhabitants. As I walked into camp for the first time in over two weeks, I suddenly noticed the trees swaying nearby and then heard a distinctive kiss-squeak sound. At first, I thought it was too good to be true, but then I glimpsed the familiar reddish-orange shape of an orangutan hidden in the branches warmly welcoming me back. I look forward to my final couple of months here following these incredible animals in their unique habitat of Sabangau peat-swamp forest.