“I went through the images and found a few which were remarkably decent photos.”
By Sarah V Schweig
Published On 12/07/2017
Encountering a wild orangutan is an increasingly rare phenomenon.
Because of threats to the rainforests where they live, the animals are considered critically endangered. That’s why Ian Wood, a wildlife photographer based in the UK, partners with the Orangutan Foundation UK to lead annual trips to Indonesia’s island of Borneo, helping to raise money for these rare apes.
Wood has been photographing orangutans for decades. And this time he wanted something a little different.
Wood decided to hide the GoPro camera in a patch of forest where the orangutans often congregate. He figured that at the very least he’d get some closer images of them — but he had no idea he’d get, well, selfies.
Some of the images Wood retrieved from his camera have the uncanny resemblance to the selfies people accidentally take when figuring out how to use a new device; others, however, were surprisingly more sophisticated.
“I went through the images and found a few which were remarkably decent photos,” Wood wrote.
“When a 3-year-old orangutan picked [the GoPro] up I was amazed at the level of interest he showed,” Wood wrote at The Guardian. “My emotions quickly turned to concern when he put it in his mouth and bit it.”
Wood said he wasn’t worried about his camera but the possibility that the young orangutan might try to eat it and choke. “After cracking the LCD screen he took it out of his mouth and accidentally took hundreds and hundreds of photos by pressing the main button,” Wood said. “After about 30 minutes he ran off with it up a tree and I thought that was the last I would see of it.”
Perhaps the orangutan lost interest, because the next moment, a stroke of luck sent the device plummeting back down.
“Eventually he dropped it and I was able to recover my damaged — but still working — camera,” Wood said.
Wood hopes that more people become interested in these amazing creatures so that they’ll be around for much longer.
“Orangutans are critically endangered mainly due to forest clearance for the palm oil industry,” Wood told The Dodo. “However, there are some beacons of hope. These photos were taken in Tanjung Puting National Park, which is well protected and home to over 4,000 of these great apes.”