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Searching for Orangutans – Kutai National Park, East Kalimantan, Indonesia

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Kutai National Park is home to tarantulas, thieving monkeys,  leaches, machete wielding park rangers and of course, the amazing orangutans. We ventured into Kutai National Park because we were looking for wild orangutans. We saw orangutans in the Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary and we were even surprised by an orangutan standing one meter away from us. However we wanted to see these orange monsters in their quickly disappearing natural habitat. In Malaysian Borneo I was sad to see the amount of palm oil plantations. Along the road in Sabah, there is very little actual jungle. Palm oil plantations, deforestation and hunting pose the biggest threat to Bornean orangutan. The threats are all very real and you will see them first hand if you venture out to Borneo. While we were in Kutai there wasn’t a moment during daylight when I didn’t hear chainsaws. Park rangers have to constantly monitor that loggers do not over step the park’s boundary, which happens more and more frequently. Fun fact,  the rate of deforestation in Indonesia is currently the highest in the world.

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We spent 2.5 days at the National Park searching for them. We were very lucky to find four an hour after we arrived at the park. It was a mother with a really tiny baby and two other females nearby. A mother and her baby stay together for two years. An orangutan can have up to three offspring in their lifetime.

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Our second day at Kutai National Park proved to be fruitless. We saw fresh orangutan poop, we smelled them but we could not find them. The only orangutan we found, was an hairy orange tree. My shoes were also attacked by two leaches. The leaches in the rainforest will get through the material in your shoe to suck on your delicious toes.

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While we stayed at Kutai National Park we slept at the park rangers hut. That hut is infested with rats in the walls, whom you will hear scrambling at night. It got so hot in our room that Jonathan left the door open on our last night. I heard really loud scrambling in the wall right beside me and I turned to investigated. I turned on the flashlight and saw an animal. “ARGHGHGHG! A FUCKING RAT!”, my brain screamed. No, it was the park ranger’s cat who was actually in heat. Her cat curiosity was stronger and she was also curious about the rats in the wall.  The loyal, horny cat sat beside me for two hours staring at the wall.

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The day we were set to leave Kutai National Park we found five orangutans! All the excitement of seeing orangutans after a day dry spell made everyone leave camp to gawk. Bad idea! As we were coming back, two macaques on lookout duty cried bloody murder and ran for their lives. Our camp was invaded by an army of monkeys! They ate everything, even the wet teabags. Things they couldn’t eat they just destroyed because they are assholes.  Our stuff was fine, however it was really funny watching the park ranger freak out while investigating the mess the macaques left behind. Now I knew that the park rangers not only had to worry about illegal loggers, but also about monkeys who at a moments notice will raid your hut.

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'2 Responses to “Searching for Orangutans – Kutai National Park, East Kalimantan, Indonesia”'
  1. Heather says:

    Ever since watching the Orangutan Island series on Animal Planet, I’ve wanted to go see these amazing creatures in the wild. It’s heartbreaking that their habitat is being destroyed at such an appalling rate.
    Heather recently posted…Say What? The Best Chinglish from Two Years in ChinaMy Profile

    • Natalia says:

      It is heartbreaking. It’s been a year since I’ve been to Kutai and now it is not a place to visit. There’s barely a rainforest left due to logging. The companies go right through the forest when the have to move machinery. So skip Kutai and head somewhere else in Borneo.

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