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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A barrow-load of mischief: Heartwarming pictures of orphan orangutans at play

By Daily Mail Reporter Fooling around like little rascals these orphaned orangutans are having a great time. From high-jinx in a wheel barrow to slumbering in a hammock, staff at the Borneo animal sanctuary where they live do their best to keep them entertained. British National Geographic photographer Charlie Hamilton James, 38, captured these incredible pictures of these primates while he travelled the island in the Pacific. 'We like the wheel barrow shot because it's cute,' Charlie said Having a wheely good time: These orphan orangutans at a sanctuary in Borneo look in the mood for fun 'Orangutans are generally solitary in the wild and young ones would rarely meet each other. 'Instead they'd spend all their time with their mothers, who they would live with for up to eight years – longer than just about any animal. 'However, in the orphanage babies loved playing together. It was hugely beneficial to their development living in groups created by humans. Play is a very important way of learning to cope with their new world.' Solemn: Thomas lies next to his mother Tut who has a new baby Tiido. The young orangutan is not getting his mother's ateention and finds it difficult Sibling rivalry: Thomas lies sulking near his mother Tut as she focuses her attention on her new baby The island of Borneo is run by three countries, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. Charlie visited three orangutan rehabilitation centres while on assignment, Seplilok in Malaysian Borneo as well as the Camp Leaky and the BOSF-Nyaru reintroduction centres on the Indonesian side of the island. Up to 650 baby orphans live in the Nyanu reintroduction centre, cared for by 170 staff members. Charlie explained how these incredibly human-like creature interacted with the people who cared for them. 'Orangutans as babies are very loving and trusting creatures,' he said. 'They are like us, they need contact. 'Orangutans are very clever and will often form very strong bonds with their human carers, just like human adoptions. Playtime: The orangutans let off some steam in their jungle home as they learn to adapt to life in the wild Just hanging around: Another young primate relaxes in a hammock at the BOSF-Nyaru Menteng Reintroduction Centre Scientists believe orangutan numbers are decreasing in the wild because of the destruction of their forest habitat by logging and the bush meat trade. There are thought to be between 45,000 and 69,000 left on the island. 'There seems to be no halt to the numbers of orangutans being brought into centres and there are increasingly few places left to put them,' said Charlie. 'Orangutan mothers are often shot when their forest is being cut down for palm oil plantations. 'Workers will sometimes shoot them for food, or sometimes to get the babies which are prized as "prestigious" pets in Indonesia. 'These orphans don't just grow up in a couple of years and can then be released. 'They are like human children - they need love, care and attention, sometimes into their teens. Close cousins: Clara, a young female orangutan, chews her lunch during a play session in the jungle Back to nature: This adolescent male lives in the wild but is fed daily Endearing: Two young orphaned orangutans contemplate a tongue during a play session 'These are highly intelligent animals that suffer not just physically but emotionally from the traumas they have encountered losing their mothers.' Wild orangutans live only in the forests of Borneo and Sumatra and are listed as endangered. The peaceful creatures survive by eating bark, leaves, flowers and insects. 'The forests are being chopped down to make room for oil palm, a product used in foods and the cosmetics industry,' Charlie said. 'On one I drove for eight hours and saw oil palm plantations for almost the entire journey, for as far as the eye could see. 'It makes me sad when I see products over here in UK with oil palm in them.' Utterly adorable; A baby orangutan looks up at his mother as he rests in he arms Mother and baby: Tut (left) plays in the jungle with her young son Tito (right) at Camp Leakey in Borneo Bad hair day: An orangutan with impressively spiky style chews on a leaf Despite the challenges to the survival of wild orangutans of Borneo, Charlie is still hopeful about their future. 'The hope is that some orangutans will be released into forests where they can be truly wild again one day,' he said. 'Many centres have bought up areas of forest where they can release the orangutans and supply them with the food they need to survive. 'An orangutan in the wild is not just for Christmas though, these creatures live as long as we do 'These centres have to make a commitment to continue supporting the released orangutans for as long as they live, or until a time comes when the forests are allowed to re-grow. 'It’s a desperate situation and I can only praise the hard work and dedication of people in Borneo, as well as those in Britain raising money to try and save them. 'It only takes one brief encounter with one of these incredible creatures to make you realise why it’s worth the effort.' Ready for action: A young primate emerges for play at the centre in Borneo source:dailymail


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