Ian Wood, a wildlife photographer based in the UK, partnered with the Orangutan Foundation UK to lead annual trips to Indonesia’s island of Borneo, helping to raise money for these rare apes. It is a rare phenomenon to encounter a wild orangutan.
The animals are considered critically endangered because of threats to the rainforests where they live. On a recent trip, Wood was lucky to have a very rare encounter with the animals — when they decided to steal his camera.
Even though Wood has been photographing orangutans for decades, this time he wanted something a little different.
Wood hid a GoPro camera in a patch of forest where the orangutans often congregate. He figured he’d get some closer images of them — but had no idea he’d get selfies.
The images Wood retrieved from his camera have an uncanny resemblance to the selfies people 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 said. “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 he was concerned 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.”
“Eventually he dropped it and I was able to recover my damaged — but still working — camera,” Wood said.
“Orangutans are critically endangered mainly due to forest clearance for the palm oil industry,” Wood said. “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.”
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