THE FOREST GARDENERS
The sun’s rays filter through gaps in the canopy, sporadically illuminating the forest floor. In a tall tree, Popy, a young orangutan, and her mother have just woken up and are getting ready to leave their nest.
“Where are we going today, Mom?”
“We will find fruit to eat. Yesterday while making a nest, I saw some trees over there with lots of fruit.”
“Well, I can’t wait, come on Mom” Popy pulled his mother’s hand in the direction of the fruiting trees.
Several swings later, they arrived at a tree, laden with fruit.
Popy’s mother began to pick the ripest fruits and eat them, then gave some to Popy. While watching her eat, Popy saw her mother throwing the fruit seeds on the ground below.
“Mom, why are you throwing the seeds on the ground? Can’t we eat the seeds? Where do the seeds go? Will the seeds pile up and become hills?” Popy’s mother laughed at the torrent of questions.
With a mouthful of fruit, still carefully removing the seeds, Popy’s mother answered: “we can eat small seeds, but not the big ones—so if the seeds are big, we just throw them away. However, the seeds that we throw to the ground, or come out with our faeces, won’t pile up into hills.”
“Then where the seeds go, mom?”
“Those seeds will grow into trees!”
“I don’t understand, mom,” said Popy.
“When we throw fruit seeds to the ground, those seeds will grow into shoots and, eventually, trees, helped along by our fertilising faeces. One day you will be big like me, but you need food to grow. These seeds are much the same; they need to eat too, but their food comes from the soil and sunlight.”
“Oh, I see, Mom. But if all the seeds grow into trees… wow, there are so many trees! Won’t the forest become too crowded?”
“Not so, Popy. Not all seeds will become big trees and produce fruit. Some don’t grow at all, and there are small animals on the ground that like to eat these seeds.”
“Wow, I got it, Mom. So, we’re important for this forest, right?”
“All animals and plants are important, including us. We all have our own function or role to play in this forest. But enough now, let’s move on to the next tree there,” she said to Popy.
And with that, Popy and her mother swung away.
Written by Petricia Hutasoit, Education Officer of BNF Indonesia
Illustration by Ferdinandus Eko/BNF Indonesia
Don’t forget to follow Popy’s Adventure Series on the next episode, Sobat Natura!