Kehje Sewen Forest, June 29, 2012
Abbie was transported by road to Kehje Sewen approximately a week after the other five had been released. So she was the last one to arrive at Mount Belah. But make no mistake, even as a newcomer, Abbie is as bold as ever. She keeps demonstrating her marvelous ability to quickly master the vast terrain of Kehje Sewen. She can travel 1-3 kilometers daily. She even visits places that have never been visited by the other five orangutans; nor by us.
Her extensive cruising area is growing every day, making observation not only difficult but also absolutely exhausting. She challenges us to climb hills of 800-900 meters above sea level (asl) to follow her. Following Abbie is always a thrilling and fantastic experience. Once, we even had to climb a steep hill for half an hour non-stop for fear that if we stopped, we’d lose her.
Abbie has a unique ability to walk on the forest floor without a sound and without leaving a trace in the trees or shrubs in her path. We are fooled numerous times and end up losing her.
Just 4 days after she was released, Abbie made a nest at the summit of a hill, at around 900 m-asl, approximately 2 kilometers away from the acclimatization enclosures at Mount Belah. That day, we only managed to follow her until midday, after which we lost her. Since then, we kept searching for Abbie to no avail. We could not see her, nor pick up her radio telemetry signals. She was simply gone.
Unexpectedly, 3 weeks later Abbie was seen sitting on a big rock across Soh River while observing our team who at that time was following Mail. Abbie’s location was around 4.2 kilometers from the acclimatization enclosures. For an orangutan entering adulthood like Abbie, it is quite normal to travel this far. An adult female Bornean orangutan’s home range is between 0.5 km2 to 5 km2.
It was like seeing an old friend. Without thinking, we plunged into the wild rapids of Soh River, ignoring the risks of drifting or drowning, just to get a closer look of Abbie. It seemed that Abbie missed us, too! She actually let us follow her into her private ‘home’ across the river, without giving us any of her usual ‘disappearing tricks’. So far, Abbie is the only orangutan who has managed to reach the forest across the Soh River.
Abbie looked healthy and well toned with stunning reddish-brown hair, indicating her success in adapting with her new environment. She obviously found a favorite place, which is the virgin forest across the river that has not been touched by her five friends. We were so excited to see her. All of our fear and anxiety disappeared. We know from now on, Abbie will be just fine. And we have come to an unspoken agreement to name the forest that extends from across the Lembu River all the way to across the Soh River, Abbie’s Forest.