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July 14, 2016
When I arrived at Totat Jalu Camp in March, I immediately saw Lesta and Lewis, a mother-and-son pair released to the Batikap Conservation Forest in February 2013. The pair could be seen in and around the camp, and they appeared to be very healthy and active. That day, I joined the PRM team to observe Lesta and Lewis and it was a priceless experience.
I watched Lewis as he hid among clumps of bamboo. He then approached us alone, but it seems Lewis has already learned a lot about survival in the wild from his mother, Lesta, because he immediately started kiss squeaking to express his displeasure at my presence.
Shortly after this interaction, Lesta spotted me and like a wild orangutan mother should, she grabbed her son and clutched him tightly to her belly, then quickly moved high through the trees of the Batikap Forest so we were unable to follow them.
Lesta and Lewis have been living in Batikap for almost four years now. Lewis is now a healthy 4-year-old and has started displaying some independence, through Lesta is still on hand to provide her motherly support and supervision. Young orangutans usually start to live apart from their mothers at the age of 6-8 years, so Lewis still has a few more years to learn from his Mum.
It is amazing to witness the dedicated love and care of a mother orangutan in preparing her son for independence. We believe Lewis will grow to be an awesome male figure in the Batikap Conservation Forest.
Text and Photos by: Arga Sawung Kusuma, Vet in BOSF Nyaru Menteng
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