One of my most memorable wildlife experiences was visiting an orangutan sanctuary at the Rasa Ria Nature Reserve in Kota Kinabalu, East Malaysia. This reserve provides protected space where orphaned orangutans are rehabilitated and hopefully reintroduced into their natural habitat. Here the orangutans are taught the skills they need to eventually live an independent life. Orangutans are native to Indonesia and Malaysia and are currently found only in the rainforests of Borneo (island shared by Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei) and Sumatra (Indonesian island). Watching juvenile orangutans is such a heartwarming pleasure. They are intelligent, playful, inquisitive and tactile animals, that it brings sadness to remember that they are at the sanctuary because of poaching and deforestation. Though it is because of these sanctuaries that people are made aware, educated and hopefully interested in actively saving these precious animals.
I was lucky enough to encounter many Capuchin monkeys in Costa Rica. After watching them for some time, I was able to observe some of their relationships and behaviors. In the first image, I had clearly met one of the more senior and respected members of the group. This individual was happiest observing the humans that were observing him, and was quite content in sitting back and allowing the other younger capuchins to cause a raucous.
They often moved together as large family groups, and when they did it was like a tornado moving through the trees. At one point they needed to cross a road, and before letting the mums and bubs exit the safety of the trees, they sent out scouts (pictured in the second image) to make sure the coast was clear. Once the scouts gave the all clear, monkey after monkey came flying out of the trees to scurry across the road and back into the jungle. Some of their leaps from tree to tree were incredibly far and seemed very dangerous, but they were completely confident and surefooted.
The monkey pictured in this last photo was caught making quite a mess with the little fruits hanging from this palm tree. Surely a source of food for these cuties, but at times it looked like it was having more fun throwing the fruits to the ground than actually caring to eat them. I think their cute little faces easily fool humans into thinking they are very friendly, but in contrary they can be quite aggressive and territorial and wont hesitate to flash some pretty sharp canines if you get too close.
This year is Chinese zodiac year of the Monkey, and it certainly is for me. I have just spent a week with various monkeys in the jungles of Costa Rica. Of all of them, this is definitely my favorite. The Squirrel Monkey. Adorable little creatures flitting through the trees like a family of small, grey and orange birds. You can hear them calling to each other as they bounce around, the sound of content and happy chirpings. Being somewhat cheeky like most monkey can be, they swept through this tree eating the fruits, only taking a few bites of each one before throwing them to the ground. Sometimes I think they were even purposefully aiming at my head. However, I will gladly take a few fruits to the head to spend time with these cute and cheeky little monkeys.