Mystery Orangutan Identified!

You may recall our monitoring story on Elisa, when our PRM team was startled by the sudden appearance of an unidentified orangutan (Read the story here).

While patiently waiting in the forest to gain a visual on Elisa, we were caught off guard when an orangutan suddenly appeared from behind. We quickly moved back to maintain our distance from the mysterious visitor, who, at a glance, looked just like Elisa. We weren’t sure that it actually was Elisa, however, as we all could have sworn we had seen her move to another tree only moments earlier. One of our team members, Usup, tried to check for other signals, but could not detected any. We gave up and assumed that the orangutan in question must have been Elisa. Still somewhat confused, we continued to observe the orangutan and take notes.

Strangely, ‘Elisa’ did nothing but sit on the ground and watch us. This was rather odd, since we had never seen Elisa climb down to the forest floor. She did not move for almost half an hour; she just watched us curiously, and paid close attention to those PRM members. To provide space for ‘Elisa’ to go about her regular activities, we backed off slowly whilst keeping her in our sights.

Out of curiosity, we started to compare photos of Elisa and ‘Elisa’ while we observed from a distance. Through a photo comparison, we were able to confirm that this orangutan was not Elisa, but Mona, a female we released four years ago (Read her story here). Indeed, both females do look rather alike! This answered our lingering question; the sudden emergence of this individual without a detectable signal was undoubtedly due to a long-depleted transmitter battery.

As if to confirm that this imposter was not Elisa, the real Elisa emerged from behind the dense foliage and eyed us. Once again, the real Elisa let out a loud kiss-squeak to voice her displeasure with our presence.

Finally, after several hours of collecting observation data, we left Mona and Elisa. We were absolutely delighted to have caught up with beautiful Mona, looking happy and healthy in the forest. This was a great outcome for the team’s day of monitoring.

Text by: PRM team from Camp Lesik, Kehje Sewen Forest

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