BOSF: Meet Sayang and Her Beautiful Baby Padma
Text by: BOSF PRM Team in Camp Lesik, Kehje Sewen Forest, East Kalimantan
Date posted: Aug 23, 2021
Orangutan mothers, like their human counterparts, are role models for their offspring. Orangutan mothers provide protection for their young and teach them the survival skills they will need for an independent life in the wild. It takes about eight years before young orangutans mature and become fully independent.
In the Kehje Sewen Forest, East Kalimantan, our Post-Release Monitoring (PRM) team has observed several adult female orangutans who are great mothers. One of these mothers is Sayang, who was first spotted with a baby orangutan on October 15, 2018. We later named her baby Padma. In April of this year, our PRM team from Camp Lesik came across this mother-offspring pair while out on a patrol, and quickly set up to conduct observations on them.
Like other youngsters, Padma is very curious, likes to play, and will whine or cry to express her discomfort. Meanwhile, as a mother, Sayang demonstrates for Padma how to better on her survival skills and patiently watches over Padma while she practices, all the while keeping her 3-year-old safe. The PRM team observed that every time Sayang foraged for a particular food, she would give Padma the chance to do the same and enjoy the results.
Sayang is also teaching Padma valuable social skills through their play and interactions. During our team’s observations, the two were seen play-wrestling a few times. Sayang also played with Padma’s fingers and tiny limbs.
By late afternoon, rain had set in. To protect them from the rain, Sayang fashioned an umbrella-like instrument out of twigs and leaves. Perhaps due to the wet and cold conditions, Padma started whimpering. Sayang tried to calm her daughter by holding her tighter to her body, playing with her fingers, giving her food, and breastfeeding her. At that point, we were reassured that Sayang really is an excellent mother to Padma.
Hopefully, Padma will inherit Sayang’s fantastic child-rearing skills and someday give birth to a new generation of orangutans in the Kehje Sewen Forest!