In the cage of one of Borneo’s big boys
Aman appears to feign indifference but I’ve tumbled to his
discount ray bans game.
When I look away, he pulls out his stick and tries to pick the lock of his cage, hands the size and colour of well worn baseball mitts deftly manoeuvring his tool into place.
I’m the one in the cage, holding the scrubbing brush, covered in sweat from head to toe with the added ignominy of having to wear a surgical mask to make sure that I don’t pass any of my human germs.
Meanwhile, he’s sitting in his spacious, grassed enclosure, which I have just cleaned and strewn with papaya and bananas to lure him out, enjoying the mid morning sun, and apparently considering a bit of break and enter.
Perhaps I should be more respectful. Aman is kind of a big deal in the orang utan community.
In 2007, he became the first orang utan to undergo cataract surgery, which became necessary after he ruined his eyes biting through an electrical cable.
Indeed, the big fella has been in the wars over the years an attempt to eat some glue on one of his forays over the wall ended badly and his left index finger was bitten off by another orang utan.
These days, he enjoys a life of comparative leisure however, surveying with restored eyesight his domain from atop a sturdily built climbing platform, from where he can look out over the Matang Wildlife Centre in southern Borneo.
Matang was to be my home for two weeks while I volunteered to clean up after orang utans, sun bears, the slothful
replica ray bans binturong and an array of smaller animals rescued from owners perhaps tired of their exotic pets, markets and defunct pet shops.
It was hot, sweaty work, in 30C plus heat and 90 per cent humidity. Every day started with cleaning up animal dung; there was no respect one of the orang utans pretended to spit at me every time I walked past and the afternoons involved sometimes back breaking work.
And I’d paid for the honour!
I couldn’t be happier.
Matang, about an hour west of Kuching in southern Borneo, was established in 1998 and is a rescue and rehabilitation centre for all protected wildlife within Sarawak.
Its main focus is orang utans and the less well known sun bear a charismatic, cuddly little creature with a monumental thirst for honey that has all but escaped the notice of wildlife researchers.
Since 2006, Matang has operated a volunteer program, allowing the public to stay for two to four weeks, helping with the care of the animals and the building and maintenance of the centre.
While this may conjure images of orang utans in nappies playing with their Western carers, this could not be further from the truth. In an effort to ensure that orang utans do not get too used to human interaction, and to prevent disease transition, there is no physical contact with them.
This is not to say you do not get up close, as my caged experience with Aman shows.
Forget to watch your back and at best you’ll be missing your broom, hose or sunglasses
cheap ray ban outlet orang utans are extremely clever and inquisitive and will not hesitate to pinch your new Ray
replica ray ban sunglasses Bans, try them on, then pull them to pieces.
Working at the centre involves daily animal husbandry read cleaning out their cages followed by an array of activities from concreting, painting and tiling, to making enrichment toys to keep the residents’ brains active.
Working volunteer programs around the world range from the tokenistic to the truly valuable. I am happy to say that the work performed by volunteers at Matang is enjoyable, varied and, above all, necessary to continue to improve the good work of the centre.
The aim is to return orang utans to the wild.
As with many animals that have been held in captivity, this is often not possible. Aman, for example, has spent most of his life in some sort of enclosure. He was rescued from a market in Sarawak in 1989 and was kept at the Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, south of Kuching, before being transferred to the Matang Wildlife Centre in 2000.
He has been in captivity so long, and spent so much time on the ground not usual behaviour for an orang utan that he would lack the skills to survive on his own.
A small number of orang utans at the centre come and go, returning occasionally when they get hungry, and venturing further afield, sometimes with their babies, as they gain the skills and confidence to look after themselves.
The future of the juvenile orang utans at the site is unclear the three without mothers are about three years old but are tiny in comparison with Aman.
They have fraught histories one still carries some shotgun pellets from the attack that dispatched his mother but are being trained by their local handlers to spend as much time as possible in the jungle canopy, where they swing almost languorously from tree to tree.
Many of the other animals at Matang a gibbon once owned by a gangster; the civet cats; and the clouded leopard are unlikely to be released into the wild as they would not likely survive, but they give tourists a more diverse experience, although conservation, rather than tourism, seems to be the priority.Articles Connexes：