Man of the Forest is an interesting name – it brings to mind Tarzan, swinging through the trees. That’s not quite it, but pretty darn close. In Malay language, Man of the Forest refers to the Orangutan. They are only found in the rainforests on two islands, Sumatra and Borneo, located in Southeast Asia. They are arboreal apes, meaning most of their lives are spent in the forest canopy high above the forest ground. Their hands and feet are interchangeable – yes, they can eat with their feet as well as their hands. They have opposable thumbs and also big toes. This not only assists them with eating fruit growing high up in the canopy, but also with swinging from trees or vines to other trees and vines. When they do come down to the forest floor they walk with both hands and feet. They have fluid motions in the trees, but awkward motion when walking on the ground. They are highly intelligent, and actually they share 96% of our DNA. Orangutans will patiently watch your motions, and then soon they are repeating your tasks and movements. One has to be careful because they are able to open most cage doors through observation. Such interesting animals, when you look into their eyes, it is like you are looking at another person. The baby Orangutans are adorable and so loving – they want to hug you and may even kiss you with scrunched up lips. Unfortunately, the Orangutans are becoming critically endangered. It is estimated that within 10 to 20 years, they may disappear from the wild altogether. These animals need trees, fruit, insects, leaves, and bark that are indigenous to the rain forest. Unfortunately, industry is cutting down all the trees, then burning the rest of the forest to make way for the palm trees that produce the palm oil widely used in other industries (especially in our food). There are also poachers that kill the mothers so they can sell the babies on the black market. There are rescue agencies that find these caged Orangutans and take them back to a safe jungle. The babies are taught the forest skills their mothers would usually teach, but it takes up to 10 years until they can be turned back into the wild. These agencies need our help to keep the animals fed, cared for, and trained. If you have a moment, check out some videos of these precious animals. You will not regret it, as their personalities and expressions are amazing.
SharLeigh has an inquisitive nature – she is interested in current events, history, science and many more subjects, including things that go bump in the night! Since 1997, SharLeigh has scoured the internet, looking for interesting, fun and timely topics covering all sorts of human-interest subjects for her articles from her home in Fontana, CA.