BOS Foundation’s monitoring team from Camp Totat Jalu observed the released orangutans Compost and Sifa a few months ago. The monitoring is a routine part of the efforts in the Bukit Batikap protected forest, which is used as a release site for rehabilitated orangutans. This curious story reveals that interactions between orangutans are just as unique as interactions between humans.

During the monitoring performed in November 2018, the team spotted the female orangutan Compost on her way to her nest only 100 metres from a river. They discovered she had reunited with her friend Sifa, whom you might remember from the story on life of a released orangutan.

Compost was highly pregnant at the time of the monitoring. She spent most of the day moving slowly but surely through the forest in search of her favourite foods. Sifa followed her all day but mostly kept to herself. She only interacted with Compost when they stumbled upon juicy fruits and pilang shoots. The two orangutans spent some quality time together in the afternoon where they relaxed in a large tree and groomed each other.

Sifa followed Compost through the forest most of the day. (Photo by BOS Foundation, Andrea Knox)

Early nesting time

After 10 minutes of quality time together, Compost had had enough. She climbed a ficus tree to enjoy her last meal of the day before nesting for the night just before 4pm. She usually did not retire for the night before 5 or 6pm so this was quite early. However, since she was 9 months pregnant, the monitoring team didn’t think much of it. Meanwhile, Sifa was munching away a couple of trees over.

Sifa was very busy munching on the juicy fruits. Here she is covered in fruit juice. (Photo by BOS Foundation, Andrea Knox)

Compost finished her nest in just 5 minutes, and then something curious happened. Compost laid in her nest and looked over at Sifa, who was busy munching away. Compost jumped out of the nest and down the tree and she took off! The monitoring team tried to follow her, but they had to give up and return to Sifa since Compost had quickly travelled 150 metres and showed no sign of stopping.

Compost watches Sifa from her nest and waits for the perfect moment to take off without anyone noticing. (Photo by BOS Foundation, Andrea Knox)

A clever disappearing act?

Sifa was distraught when she looked over at Compost’s nest and discovered she had gone. She began circling the area, climbing the highest trees to spot her, and let out loud cries. Sifa gave up finding her friend after about 15 minutes, and she made her nest for the night.

BOS Foundation’s monitoring team concluded that Compost had made her nest for the night in order to trick Sifa, allowing her to run off! Compost is usually a very sweet and doting orangutan, and her seemingly clever disappearing act shocked the monitoring team. However, they were rather impressed with her intellect and decisiveness. Maybe the expectant mother just needed some ’me time’ before having her first baby?