Robert and Ajeng: Potential New Match in the Kehje Sewen?

As the wet season settles in, rain falls daily on the Kehje Sewen Forest. Bright morning skies turn gloomy in the afternoon bringing showers that persist until late into the night. But despite the unfriendly weather, our PRM team are still as passionate as ever in their efforts to observe and collect data on our reintroduced orangutans.

Last Wednesday, the PRM team headed into the forest at around 8 a.m. to locate and observe Robert, a nine-year-old male who was released in April this year. The team hiked four kilometres through physically challenging terrain and along hilly trails before finally gaining a visual on Robert, who was relaxing in a tree. They quickly prepared binoculars and other monitoring equipment, and started to take notes on Robert’s activities.

Robert sat on the tree

Shortly after, Ajeng, an 11-year-old female we released two years ago, came out of nowhere and approached Robert. It was the first time we had seen the two encounter one another in the forest. Robert was calm and seemed totally unfazed by Ajeng’s uninvited presence.

Ajeng hang on the Liana

The two happily spent time together foraging and eating forest fruits. In a sweet gesture, Robert reached out for Ajeng’s hand, and the pair continued to eat while holding hands. Then, perhaps feeling overly confident and carried away by the moment, Robert embraced Ajeng to initiate copulation. Ajeng failed to respond, and Robert, accepting the refusal, simply went back to eating. Not long after, Ajeng reached out to touch Robert, who evened the score by rejecting her back.

The awkward moment lasted for quite some time, until the two slowly parted ways and moved off in different directions. The team quickly split up to continue observing the two, in the hope they would reunite during the day. Unfortunately, the afternoon rain set in and we had to call it a day.

We don’t know if Robert and Ajeng met up again that day, but we were thankful to have witnessed the two thriving and adapting well in their new home. We sincerely hope their interaction does not stop there, and that the two will someday help produce a new, wild orangutan population in the Kehje Sewen Forest.

Text by: PRM team in Camp Nles Mamse, Kehje Sewen Forest

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