First of all, clear all images of cuddling cute baby orangutans from your mind. Having dreams about taking care of orangutan babies is one thing but some people do not realise that human contact can actually spread diseases to orangutans, and that the orphan babies probably appreciate the security of being cared for by parents – the same parents, not different people each week. If you want to look after the babies then that is more of a permanent job lasting years or possibly a long trip, not a small trip. That over, I’ll talk about what you WILL be doing.
This trip focuses on the orangutans that have either been rehabilitated or are totally wild, and how they look after themselves, as well as the human-to-orangutan disease spreading issue; after all, you want the surviving orangutans to be healthy so that they continue surviving and survive well! The work you do, however, will help the rainforest and orangutans all over the place. You will also be involved tasks such as estimating the orangutan numbers in the wild and checking out what food they have available.
It has been observed that wild orangutans can self-medicate, and may know special medicinal skills that rehabilitated orangutans may not. OHP is looking into this and investigating what the wild orangutans know, as well as taking part in other orangutan conservation efforts. Who knows; you may even help find a cure for a human or orangutan illness!
The type of tasks I did included:
- Termite-proofing the OHP base
- Collecting data during rainforest fieldwork
-Data input/ Checking past inputted data for any mistakes to ensure the most accurate data possible
- Collecting supplies in town
- Keeping collected orangutan food samples and plant samples damp-free
I actually wouldn't have minded doing more work at times - sometimes you needed the rest but other times I would have been perfectly happy to do more. Overall the tasks felt necessary, although the trip did make me realise just how much trouble the orangutans are actually in, and realise how much action has to be taken to save the orangutan from extinction (a lot!). My enthusiasm for saving the orangutans and rainforest has increased even more after going on this trip.