Monday, January 12, 2009

Indonesia, Part 2


Samboja is an orangutan and sun bear reserve about an hour and a half from the Chevron oil compound. Since the mid day heat, even in winter, is fairly intense we got up early and were on the road by 7am. Why yes, I did stumble around like an idiot until I guzzled 2 cups of coffee, why do you ask? And why is it that I always think things like cookies and marshmallows will be a fabulous idea for breakfast food before coffee?? This is why I try to keep them out of sight and leave out breakfast foods for myself so I actually eat something that has nutritional value and won't make me feel sick in half an hour. We actually had a caravan of SUVs and accompanying chauffeurs to get out to the reserve because just about everyone who had kids visiting for the holidays wanted to come.

Our caravan! The orangutans were more interesting to watch but we couldn't get too close since they are being trained to go back into the wild. Also, they had just gotten a vaccine or something the day before and were Very shy. When we were watching their feeding we had to crouch down in the grass because they wouldn't come near the food with everyone watching. The mother and baby wouldn't come near but the other orangutans snagged some food and shared with them.

One of the orangutans kind of snuck down to the food, grabbed a coconut and then leaped off with it. He spent awhile at the top of one of the "trees" smashing it open before bringing his booty to his friends. This process was repeated a couple of times until everyone got some. They really do use their feet and hands interchangeably.

The sun bears are fairly small but there were signs warning you that the only bear you should be getting close to is your teddy bear. These were accompanied by rather intimidating picture of their claws and teeth. They may look cuddly but overall Big Ouch as my six year old students like to say. Very big ouch.

This little guy is in quarantine from the other bears until he proves he is disease free. The yellow spot on their chests is where they got the name 'sun bear' from.
This is the view into the larger bear pens.
To keep the bears active (and the agression down) the caretakers hide honey and other sweet treats around the pen and they spend most of the day looking for it.
How many bears do you see? There were quite a few in each area. One of the problems with rehabilitating the animals is that there often isn't anywhere to send them in the wild since their natural rain forest habitat shrinks drastically each year. In the areas that do exist, they are likely to be captured, hunted or injured again at human hands. This goes doubly so for the orangutans who are often captured for use as exotic pets. You could tell the subject was depressing for the caretakers and scientists when they talked about it.

After lunch back at base camp we headed back for Balikpapan. On the way though, the driver of our car suggested that we stop at this crocodile place on the way. My companions motto (and mine too): Why not? And also, COOL. Me: I will finally be able to tell the difference between alligators and crocodiles if I've seen one!

Hello big guy. This guys head was probably as big as my 4 year old students. The door to his pen was wooden and had a kind of flimsy looking padlock on it. We backed away rather quickly.

Baby crocs!

Why do crocodiles just chill with their mouths open? They seemed to do this a lot. I can't decide if it's to be unnerving or so that unsuspecting birds will fly in...

A whole row of really huge crocs.
The html code of this entry is less than happy at me for all of the cutting and pasting I'm doing and every time I add a new picture I have to do more and more fixing so I'm going to end Part 2 here and leave Balikpapan night life and other fun stories for Indonesia, Part 3.


Josh said...

YAY!!!! I likes full res pictures little one! BTW: it was great to talk to you yesterday, I really enjoyed hearing about your multitude of short person based asian adventures!

Alex said...

Aww thanks Josh!

Josh said...

oh yeah... and i love orang-a-mah-tans and crocodiles too!