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Sungai Penuh, Sumatra
Orang pendek sighting, January 2001

Aripin, an Indonesian forestry ranger in the Sungai Penuh region of Mt Kerinci in Jambi, Sumatra; head of one of the TPCU's and one of nature's huge skeptics, saw an orang pendek about 12 days ago. Exciting news like this takes time to get out of the rain forest when you consider it's approximately an 8 or 9 hour trek to the nearest paved road.

To me, this rather amusing but for him it was upsetting since Aripin firmly did not believe in the existence of the orang pendek prior to this unforeseen sighting which disrupted his skeptical world.

According to correspondent Debbie Martyr stationed at the scene with the Tiger Project and Project Orang Pendek, judging from Aripin's description "it can't have been anything else." Then, as if to add insult to injury, a young Master's student there in the beautiful rain forest studying behavioral ecology of siamang heard a long wailing call which, again Martyr identifies as, "it could have only been that of an orang pendek."

Martyr, whose rain forest computer is held together with cellophane tape, clarinet reeds and a inadequate amount of Band-aids went on to reveal: "what is interesting is, I am fairly certain the animal was not moving terrestrially this time but just above the ground." Continuing, Martyr wrote, "Our team did a good sweep of the area and found no footmarks where the animal was moving.

From their description of the way it was moving, I think it was actually brachiating just above ground level — maybe a foot or so at most not least because of the heavy movement of saplings, etc. described by our research team. Only Aripin got a reasonably good view of the animal, and that being partial and from behind (something like 80 percent+ of all informant reports are of the animals already in fast retreat and so animal seen momentarily from behind). The good thing is that Aripin is extremely levelheaded and cautious, which is also unusual for an Indonesian forestry ranger. He is very interested in animals and of course knows his bear from his pig-tail macaque from hisetc."

The color described is consistent with the dark brown color morph of the orang pendek " the second main morph is a rather nice honey gold which Debbie Martyr thinks is overall slightly more common.

Tuesday 7 February 2001