We knew they were smart – tests have proven that the great ape species that includes orangutans have intelligence way beyond what was once believed.
The funny part though, is that the instigator and trainer of this adventure, Dr. Peter Pratje didn’t find any interest to begin with. The apes were standoffish and wary.
“As all the orangutans in our programme are orphans and hand raised by humans they were very relaxed having a GoPro team around,” said Dr. Pratje of Frankfurt Zoological Society and project manager in Indonesia.
But once the teams began treating the cameras as exciting and fun objects – it didn’t take long to get their attention, and away they went.
“There was a risk that the orangutans would bite the cameras into pieces. However, when they did try, they didn’t manage to crack it,” said Dr. Pratje.
This video experiment was an effort to teach the world of the incredible beauty, intelligence – and the plight of orangutans in their natural habitats. Rain forests are being cut down, taking their homes and forcing them into orphanages and worse – all in pursuit of bio fuels and palm oil. In Sumatra, approximately 80 percent of the native rainforest has been destroyed.
This, along with illegal hunting of orangutans has put their kind, our kin, on the endangered species list.
Some experts estimate orangutans could be extinct in the wild in less than 25 years.
“Orangutans are so close to humans you can almost read their emotions and feelings,” said Dr. Pratje. “We even share more than 96 percent identical genes with orangutans, so it’s like watching our far cousins in the forest.”
The video brings hope that will widely raise awareness of the Sumatran orangutan’s plight.
Dr. Pratje has been training abandoned and orphaned orangutans since 2001 in an effort to gently release them back into the wild. However, in the future, it could be a place that no longer can sustain them.
“My favourite scene is definitely the release sequence; you know when the transport box opens and the orangutan leaves the box to return to the forest,” Dr. Pratje said. That’s what the whole re-introduction programme is about.”
Image via YouTube