Kehje Sewen Forest, May 28, 2012
Heavy rain rinsed the forest of Mount Belah since 4 AM. Consequently, activities of orangutans slowed down slightly. Berlian took the opportunity to sleep in until around 10 AM, and instead of immediately foraging as she usually does, she was just lazying around for a while. Sitting on a branch, she covered her head with several large leaves. Even the nearby fruiting Ficus tree could not make her move. It really was a cold morning.
Later in the day, Berlian finally got hungry enough. She swung to the Ficus tree and started eating the fruits. Unexpectedly though, a group of bees was clearly disturbed by Berlian’s activity, which culminated in a sudden attack. Berlian had to quickly go down from the tree and ran on the ground to avoid beestings. She ran straight into our Post Release Monitoring (PRM) Team (Deni, Izur, vet Agus, Masino and Putri). Naturally, seeing the bees going ballistic, the team also ran with her! It was frightening, but comedic at the same time.
Having escaped her first bee attack did not stop Berlian from foraging near the beehive. She rejoined Lesan to eat at treetops. And of course, she had to face another attack. Once again, Berlian went down from the tree and ran towards the PRM Team. This time, Berlian and several members of the team could not escape easily. Berlian, as well as vet Agus and Deni, got stung quite a few times. It was not clear why Berlian kept running towards our team. It could be because she thought we could help her or maybe to simply ‘share’ her misery and misfortune.
After that incident, Berlian seemed reluctant to find food at treetops, where the bees reside. Parts of her body were swollen from beestings and she spent a lot of times on the ground scratching them, regardless of the fact that being on the ground meant she now became a target for leeches.
Luckily, Berlian did not give up on foraging. The cold day and two bee attacks made her really hungry. So instead of searching for food at treetops, she looked for other food sources, namely termites. On the ground, Berlian had a lot of fun breaking into several termites’ nests, splitting them apart like a piece of bread so she could insert her tongue and teeth into the nests. Slurrrp… the termites quickly became a delightful meal in this cold rainy day.
The somber weather and today’s unexpected adventure – not to mention sore bodies from running and getting stung by bees – made our team very hungry as well. And also very sleepy. Seeing Berlian stuffing herself with termites and then resting drowsily against a tree after her meal, the team retreated to Camp and also had lunch… followed by a nice afternoon nap. Life in the forest is sweet, indeed!
Berlian’s behavior reminds vet Agus to the Eskimos. As we know, in extreme cold environment of the Arctic, the Eskimos’ diet mainly consists of protein-rich meat because protein provides more sustainable body heat compared to carbohydrates. Vet Agus wonders whether Berlian instinctively knows this. She is very good at selecting the right food sources to adapt to any condition and situation at Mount Belah.
Berlian also teaches the PRM Team about courage and resilience. She teaches us that if we don’t give up and keep trying, a lot of doors to success will open up. You go, girl!