The Orangutan Island show on The Animal Planet is one of my favourite shows which is aired every Friday Night. The episode aired on last Friday was “Chen-Chen’s Return” which told us about the return of an orangutan called Chen-Chen to the island from the rehab centre. Chen-Chen was rushed to the rehab centre because of the head injury he suffered. But the episode is not just about Chen-Chen’s return. Another story included in the episode was about a 10-year-old male orangutan called Hamlet who attacked and hurt a security guard (satpam).
Here how the story rolls. In the orangutan island which houses tens of rehabilitated orangutans security guards have to constantly watch the perimeter of the island to thwart poachers and illegal hunters from hunting down the orangutans and from damaging their surroundings. The guards usually make the patrols on the waterway. To fortify their presence in the island, the guards set up a few posts but the posts are relatively distant from the platforms where the orangutans usually gather to socialise amongst themselves. The “safe” distance between the posts and the platform seems necessary so the orangutans would not feel disturbed with the presence of the guards. And that’s why the posts are not frequented by those of our red hairy distant relatives!
But it happened one day when a 10-year-old male orangutan called Hamlet came too close to a post where there was only a lone guard therein. Orangutans are normally very gentle. They are even way gentler than their distant African relatives, the chimps. But of course there has always been an anomaly in a population and these orangutans are no exception. In the wild, adult male orangutans live solitary and they are exceptionally territorial. It means that they would defend their territories if they saw other males intrude into theirs. Usually orangutans do not attack people but in a rare case an orangutan might regard an adult human male as an unwanted element that must be forced off. And the case is true when Hamlet saw a security guard stood alone inside the security post.
An adult male orangutan can be six times as strong as an adult male human. An adult male orangutan can tip the balance at up to 250 lbs. A 10-year-old orangutan like Hamlet is not considered fully grown-up yet his strength is much greater vis-à-vis the security guard’s. But of course when it concerns strength it is no surprise that Hamlet could easily overcome the security guard. What surprised me most is the intelligence used by this ape to subdue the security guard. Before attacking the guard, the ape tipped the guard’s boat over and made it sink. The orangutan knew that by sinking the boat the guard would not be able to escape the attack because the only way for the guard to escape is through the waterway! Since the boat was gone, the security guard would be helpless and would be more prone to the ape’s vicious attack.
The security guard was wounded at various parts on his body. The worst one is at his foot. If the infection ran too deep the worst scenario is that he might lose his foot for good. But fortunately the guard’s foot was healing and he did not have to kiss his foot au revoir. The site manager of Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, The Danish Lone Dröscher-Nielsen had decided on what to do with Hamlet. If the same accident happened again the fate would be clear Hamlet has to stay ‘behind bars’.
I am still astonished with the strategy used by the orangutan to beat the security guard. Sinking the guard’s boat before attacking him. That’s a very complex mind and it is exceptionally intelligent. Considering the wit shown by the orangutan, do you think that we share the same genetic traits with them??