Far away on an island called Borneo there lived an Orangutan called Omarii. He was a loner and seldom was seen with any of the other Orangutans. Day after day Omarii would swing from the tree branches using his long arms that reached almost seven feet long. Omarii was known to the village people as “the man of the forest”. Omarii was the watcher of the jungle and worked very hard to protect his area from hunters. For years he had watched young Orangutans be captured and sold for pets. Now because of this, his species was decreasing and in grave danger of being completely gone forever.
Omarii had a large, bulky body, a very thick neck, short bowed legs, very strong arms and no tail at all like most monkeys do. His reddish-brown hair covered almost all of his body and he stood about five feet tall. After a good meal of fruits, plants, seeds or tree bark he weighed about one hundred and fifty pounds. His favorite food is the flowers that boom in the jungle and occasionally he would raid a bird nest and steal the eggs or baby birds.
Omarii turned his large head from side to side listening for any sounds of predators. His dark eyes moved slowly through the leaves and tree branches. He had lived in the rain forest for over twenty years and had escaped the hunters many times simply because he used his keen senses. He sniffed the air and flapped his large cheeks making a very long loud sound. He waited a few minutes then once more he called in a loud voice. This was his way of telling all the others who might be anywhere within his voice that he was claiming his territory. He would challenge any other male who wandered into his living quarters. The strongest male would win the territory and the food supply in the area. Omarii’s large throat sac allowed his voice to travel for miles in all directions.
Omarii had acute hearing, sight, smell, taste and touch much like humans do. Filling his huge mouth with food he began to look for a tree with water. Omarii rarely left the trees to get drink. Instead he searched for trees that had holes between the branches and drank the collected water. He felt safer than going down on the jungle floor because he could see all around him from high up in the trees. When it rained he would often take a large leaf and cup it together funneling the water into his mouth. He also placed the larger leaves over his head to protect himself from the beating rain.
Omarii lived alone simply because he did not want to share his food. If he allowed others to come his food supply would suffer drastically. He had several mates in his lifetime but they moved to another area within days after mating. As usual, the females care for the young for as many as six or seven years having nothing else to do with the males. Omarii liked it this way. People share, Omarii did not like to share.
“I simply detest these blooming flies buzzing around my head. In all of this jungle you would think they could find somewhere else to go!” He bellowed giving the critters a quick slap with his hand.
“Oh goodness I did get one. Not much food for someone my size but I’ll eat it just the same. I’ll eat you all if you don’t get away from me and leave me alone. I seldom bother anyone else and I would appreciate being left alone myself!” He mumbled twisting his head from side to side.
“I had better get busy and make myself a new place to sleep. My old one is a little worn and quite uncomfortable. I like my bed to be soft and comfortable so I’ll just gather up some of these big green leaves like the birds do. I’ll make myself a nest. Tonight I can curl up and sleep like a baby.” He mused.
His long fingers grabbed the huge thick leaves and began to fashion himself a bed. His four long fingers worked quickly and his thumbs pressed the leaves together. Before long he had constructed himself a nice place to rest.
“Ah how sweet it is. Maybe I’ll just take myself a little afternoon nap. I did get up quite early this morning to search for food. Oh yes this platform feels so comfy. When I get up I’ll gather a few more leaves to thicken it up a bit and I’ll be good to go.” He stretched his body over the wide part of the nest and wrapped his long arms around it. It wasn’t long before he was snoring just like a human.
Omarii’s father was nearly forty years old and Omarii had not seen him in a very long time. He had many brothers and sisters who had been captured by the hunters. It made him very sad to think that they were gone and he would never see them again.
Life goes on and memories fade like the flowers fragrance. It was Omarii’s desire to live longer and increase his territory to three times the size. He thought of himself as the perfect male and he prided himself in grooming his hair daily. Any bugs living in his hair were picked out and eaten quickly.
Omarii slept for an hour or so. Rubbing his eyes, he yawned a big yawn and stretched himself out like a giant spider.
“Oh I feel much better now. A man has to have his rest you know. Now I can gather more leaves and eat until the sunsets. Oh happy day! What a wonderful day to be alive. I’m healthy, handsome and before long I’ll find myself another lady friend. This time I am going to look for a young pretty one. They smell so good and their lips are as soft as the orchid’s petals.”
Omarii was probably one of the very few that had ever seen the astonishing flower called the Rafflesia growing in the rainforest. It would start as a tiny bud but took over a year to make a blossom. Few people had ever seen its five fleshy petal like lobes or it’s marbled red and white color. Many animals had been fooled by its meat like color and its strong odor. It lives for only a few days then rots and turns dark brown. Its life is so short only Omarii and his friends are able to enjoy its colors.
As the sun began to lower itself in the sky, Omarii knew it was time to return to his nest. Filling his mouth with hands full of leaves he began swinging through the jungle on his way to his newly made place of rest. Just then he heard a rustling sound in the lush green leaves beneath him. To his surprise a pygmy elephant was wading through the undergrowth. It was not everyday that he saw the pygmy elephant for they too have nearly died out. The humans had killed them for their ivory tusk or for meat. He watched as the elephant’s trunk picked fruit from the trees and stuffed them into his mouth. As long as he stayed up in the trees he would be safe. He took a deep breath and proceeded toward his nest.
As night came the incessant sounds of the cicadas began their whines. Guttural grunts, roars and barks could be heard. The “ttok-took-tarook-took-took” sounds of the hidden barbets high up in the canopy begin their persistent calls. These colorful birds turn their heads and with their beaks closed, sound as if a ventriloquist too lived in the canopy.
The day draws to a close and Omarii stretches across his bed. He can hear the monkeys making their usual “Whoop Whoop” sounds. As sleep moves slowly in, all sounds above and below become the rainforest’s lullaby. It was never silent for something was always slithering, sliding, snapping, crunching, or rumbling on the floor beneath him.
Tomorrow would be another day to eat and sleep. It would also be another day to watch for their biggest predator, MAN! Omarii would be ready.
He had to survive and multiply so that all the other Orangutans would not perish from the earth. So goes the cycle of life.
Written by Sybil Shearin
All Rights Reserved
Copyrighted July 2011
Question: What kind of sound does the monkey make?