“Sometimes animals are more human than people and other times people are more animal than animals”― Michelangelo Saez
No matter how reasonable, affectionate, kind, and humane we strive to be, nature often finds a way to teach us valuable lessons about compassion and purity.
Indonesian amateur photographer Anil Prabhakar captured a touching moment while he was on a safari with his friends.
In the photo, an orangutan who lives in the conservation area in Borneo reaches out to help a man submerged up to his chest in a muddy river in Borneo.
The photographer was told that the man works for the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation, (BOSF), a non-profit organization founded in 1991, and dedicated to protecting the endangered species.
At the moment of the encounter, the worker was searching the area for snakes that are a lethal danger to the primates.
Yet, the man eventually refused the hand of the ape, since it was a wild animal.
“Someone told him there was a snake in the river. The warden went there and cleared the bushes. An orangutan came to the banks and was watching what he was doing. He then came closer and gave his hand. The warden just moved away. I asked him why later and he said, ‘It’s a wild animal, not one we are familiar with. But they are to protect them.”
Prabhakar admitted that he didn’t expect to witness such an “emotional” encounter, and added that it lasted just three or four minutes.
Yet, he added that he was very pleased that the special moment happened to him. He posted the photo on Instagram, and it has been liked over 40K so far.
Between 1999 and 2015, due to the destruction of their natural habitat for palm oil plantations, the population of the Bornean orangutans has decreased by more than half.
Palm oil is a common additive used all around the world and it is extracted from the fruits and seeds of the oil palm. Every year, about 66 million tons of this oil are produced, and numerous forests and lands have been destroyed to make room for plantations.
The decrease in the orangutan populations is also a result of forest fires, forest degradation by illegal logging, as well as hunting of orangutans for food and capture for the pet trade.
According to the website of the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation, it has been “encouraging the protection of Bornean orangutans and their habitat” while “increasing the empowerment of communities surrounding orangutan habitat.”
The foundation has 400 members of staff and explains that orangutans “are classified as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) and protected under Indonesian Law against any kind of persecution of them or their habitat.
“Yet, over the past decade, as the forests are still being burnt, cleared, and logged, thousands of orangutans have died and many more have been displaced.
Together with local stakeholders, the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry, and many international NGOs, BOSF trying to preserve the species by taking care of nearly 650 orangutans.
The website adds:
“As one of our closest living relatives orangutans are highly intelligent, sentient beings. They are an iconic species of Indonesia and an important umbrella species.
By protecting orangutans in their natural habitat, a whole plethora of other flora and fauna are also protected. Protecting their forest habitat is as important to humans as much as it is to wildlife.”