National Geographic : 1975 Oct
relative in Kumai who had lost half his hand and part of one foot to an orangutan male he had encountered in a ladang. But it turned out that the relative had been chasing the animal with dogs. A full accounting of inci dents like these always led to the same con clusion: Humans who were bitten or wounded had invariably provoked the apes. Orang Forgoes His Penthouse Bed By now, meeting an orangutan on the ground came as no surprise. One mature male sometimes spent as long as six hours a day traveling and foraging on the ground, though on other days he stayed totally in the trees. Another large male came down from the trees daily and did almost all his long distance traveling along the forest floor. I was, however, amazed to see a subadult male sleep for 45 minutes on the ground dur ing the day. He didn't make a nest but merely bent a sapling under him as he lay down. This was the first time that anyone had seen a wild orangutan sleeping on the ground. Since then we have found three actual "ground" nests. In these instances the nests were built on fallen logs less than a yard off the forest floor. Rarest of the apes, wild orangutans are restricted to diminishing ranges on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. It has long been illegal in Indonesia and Malaysia to own, kill, or export them, but until recently the laws were not strictly enforced. The threat of extinction still hangs over the orangutan be cause of the slaughter of mothers by poachers trying to capture their infants and the whole sale destruction of their habitat by logging and agricultural land-clearing operations. For years captive orangutans have brought high prices from zoos and laboratories around the world, though lately conservation The author, a doctoral candidate in anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles, received grants for her study from the L. S. B. Leakey Founda tion of Los Angeles, National Geographic Society, Wilkie Brothers Foundation, Jane and Justin Dart Foundation, Herz Foundation, New York Zoological Society, and the Van Tienhoven Foundation of the Netherlands. The In donesian Institute of Sciences and the Nature Protection and Wildlife Management Service acted as sponsors for the study.