by Graham Banes, Ph.D

I can only imagine what Tanjung Puting was like in 1978, a decade before I was born. Today, this National Park in Indonesian Borneo is a bustling tourist attraction, with dozens – sometimes hundreds – of visitors sailing hours upriver on motorized longboats, or kelotoks, before hauling themselves out into the jungle. They come to see the orang-utans, and largely at Camp Leakey, a former reintroduction and rehabilitation site for these endangered primates. It is, in many senses, spoiled by decades of exploitation – not least by these abundant Western tourists, many of whom take little notice of the rules that are there to protect all apes, both human and orange. On August 22nd 1978, however, the Camp was not overrun with Westerners. On that day, there was only one.

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