For our second third of the trip we are visiting a sanctuary and a rehabilitation center to see the endemic species of Proboscis Monkeys and Orangutans while also studying the relations of Palm oil plantations and deforestation to their habitats. We started off on our long journey with a 6 hour bus ride through miles upon miles of palm oil plantations. It was solemn and sad but at the same time breath taking to see how much of the land was used for these plantations. Borneo used to be completely covered in rainforest and now is only about 21% covered in rainforest.
When we arrived in the area we took some time to look at the proboscis monkeys and the orangutans. These were absolutely mesmerizing to watch and to see. I loved watching the interactions between the different harems (groups) of monkeys. When they started to get fed, one dominate male would start feeding first then his female and younger family members would join. At one point there was a shift in power when another dominate male and his harem came to feed. A fight broke out between the two males as they tried to assert their domain and strength over one another. They do this to show the females that they have power and assertion over the group, if they fail at this dominance dance they become in danger of losing their females. Of course seeing the baby monkeys is always very fun and cute but its also a sort of solemn feeling when you know they have to spend their lives here because if they try to venture out they are in danger of getting lost and caught in the palm forest. They have been isolated by palm farmers and trapped in only a few areas.
Not only to I wish and hope that the tourism and people viewing these monkeys know what exactly they are looking at but I also hope they are able to take one more step forward and help. I know it seems very cliche to go out and say “Save the rainforest!” but once you’ve been into the position of seeing these animals face to face and knowing their fate, its really hard not to want to say or do something about it. If I would have one wish for all of man kind it would be that everyone would be required to go on a conservation trip in a place they have never been to and really grasp the concepts and images of conservation. I think a lot of problems that the world, particularly the Western and American part of the world, faces may be impacted if people got out of
their comfort zone for a while and saw the wonders of the world. One of the last things we got to see was the diversity and wonders of life in the jungle at night. The sides of trees and the underside of leaves were scattered with spiny, creepy, pointy, and perplexing insects and critters. You never know what you’ll find in the jungle especially at night!