A Mother’s Bond

After several days of being out of radio tracking range, our Camp Lesik PRM team in Kehje Sewen Forest located Yayang and her baby, Louise, close to the camp one afternoon after finishing a patrol round. The team began to collect ‘found-to-nest’ data, which involves observing a located orangutan up to the point when he/she builds their night nest. That evening, Yayang built her nest only 250 metres from Camp Lesik.

The following day, Yayang and Louise spent most of their time up in the trees where Yayang busily consumed liana fruits. Around noon, the two moved toward the Telen River.

Yayang eating liana fruit

A short time afterwards, the team spotted movements across the river, which turned out to be Hamzah, Casey and Sayang moving through the trees. Long separated from her mother (Yayang), Sayang seemed eager to meet up with her and her baby sister. Yayang kept going about her business while keeping a keen eye on the approaching Sayang.

Yayang and Louise up in the trees

At first, a strong current seemed to deter Sayang from crossing the river. However, she cleverly hung on to tree branches as she stepped across the large river rocks and gave it a go.

Sayang busily eating Lithocarpus sp. before attempting to cross the Telen River

Sayang slowly made her way across the river and then quickly went up to meet Yayang and Louise. All three appeared happy to be in each other’s company. Sayang seemed to be very fond of Louise and played with her little sister, repeatedly nuzzling her face and gently touching her hands.

Sayang playing with Louise

The sky was clear that day, and the good weather gave Yayang and Sayang the chance to roam the forest together for the remaining daylight hours. They ended the day building their nests close to each other. The trio stayed together for the next few days and Sayang was observed sharing her food with Louise on a number of occasions.

As our team witness regularly, the bond between an orangutan mother and her child is strong and even in later life, especially among the mothers, daughters, sisters and aunts, they often meet up and spend time in each other’s company. It is great to see Sayang return to spend time with her mother and sister like a wild female orangutan would.



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