POST RELEASE MONITORING (PRMP) UPDATE Feb 2013

Eyos Looking Bored

Tabin - A day in the life

03:30 - As usual, I'm woken up by the smells of frying garlic and onions. It's amazing how early some of my staff get up in the morning to prepare for a day in the forest following our orangutans!

05:25 - After packing our gear and a breakfast of instant noodles and eggs, we leave camp every day at this time without fail. It's still dark this early in the morning but it starts to get light around 05:45, so we always begin our daily treks into the forest in darkness. Depending on where the orangutans made their nest the previous night, we could be walking for anything between five minutes to an hour and a half. Most of the orangs we've released all seem to prefer higher ground so this means lots of huffing and puffing for us as we try to get to their nesting site before they wake up and start their day!

06:05 - Today I am tracking the beautiful Eyos. She's just woken up and left her nest. The first thing she does, like many of us, is go to the toilet! Just make sure you're not standing under whatever tree she's in! Eyos then takes a few minutes just looking around waiting for the cobwebs to clear; she registers the same confused and fuzzy look as we do on waking!

06:15 - Ok, back to the serious business at hand; Eyos is hungry already! She
comes down from her nesting tree to the ground and starts walking to one of her favourite feeding patches. On the way she stops to feed on some rattan. It's amazing to watch how delicately she pulls the edible parts from the rest of the plant because rattan is really spiky and painful to touch. She's got really tough hands though and the thorns are no match for Eyos' pulling power! After a few minutes chowing down on the sweet tasting pith, she continues her journey until she reaches her spot and climbs high up a Laran tree to feast on its abundant fruits for the next hour and a half!

09:12 - Slow down Eyos! She's travelled to an area that she's never been to before so my tracking partner and I have to use our machetes to clear our path just to keep up with her. Phew! We almost lost her then; but there she is over there - raiding an ants' nest!

13:31 - As she reaches another of her favourite feeding spots, she crosses a river and stoops to have a little drink of water. It's a beautiful thing to see these animals interact with the forest so naturally.

14:42 - Oh no! Looks like Eyos has just got stung by a bee! She was merrily eating Kunau kunau fruits when suddenly she came racing down the tree trunk at a million miles an hour, whimpering in pain! From our position on the ground we can see that there are still a few angry bees buzzing around above her, but she'll be fine; just another lesson learnt - recognise a bees' nest and don't disturb it Eyos!

15:29 - Here comes the thunder and torrential rain! It's not hard to see why they call this place the rainforest! Eyos is sitting on a branch holding a bunch of leaves above her head trying to stay dry. She looks thoroughly miserable and wet up there despite her makeshift umbrella! Even though I've got a real umbrella I always end up much wetter than the orangutans after a downpour... still trying to work out how!

17:39 - Eyos has just climbed high into the canopy and we can hear the familiar sound of breaking branches. That means she's building her night nest! It usually takes her about five to 10 minutes to finish building unless she's feeling lazy and just decides to reuse one of her older nests.

18:00 - Ok, it looks as though she's asleep already as we haven't seen any movement from her since she finished building her nest. Time for us to trek back out towards the road and head back to camp.

18:30 - Home sweet home! First thing to do is cook dinner because all of the tracking teams are hungry after another long day in the forest. Once that's done, we need to hand wash all of our field gear, and ourselves of course, as we tend to get very dirty and sweaty on an average day!

21:00 - After debriefing with the other tracking teams about how the other orangutans got on that day, it's time for bed - ready to do it all again tomorrow!

Of course, we also need to input all of the data that we collect into the computer. We also have to keep our research camp clean, safe, and in good working order.

Throw in meetings, conferences, and the other work I do for the Appeal on our other projects, and it's a pretty packed work schedule. It's hard and lonely work at times but so worth it to know how valuable the data is and to see these animals free - where they belong!