Friendships always have their ups and downs, and this is also true amongst orangutans. Desi and Kimi, two orangutans living on Juq Kehje Swen Island, in East Kalimantan, are good friends who are known to have the occasional fight. The two recently had another interesting tiff! What did they fight about?

Desi is the only rehabilitated orangutan currently undergoing the pre-release stage on the island; Kimi, meanwhile, is a wild orangutan who was found roaming in the area and crossed onto the island.

Our team’s observations indicate that the two have formed a close friendship. When Desi is eating, Kimi will often approach and expect food. Luckily, Desi is usually happy to oblige and will share her food with Kimi.

Desi gets annoyed, however, with the nosy macaques in the forest. As mentioned in previous stories, these notorious monkeys often steal Desi’s food, especially when they move in groups. However, they don’t dare to do it when Kimi is around, as they have learnt that she becomes aggressive whenever she sees them.

Desi often explores the island with Kimi and has learnt from her, as can be seen from the increased variety of natural foods Desi has been consuming lately. Our team has seen Desi eating Ficus racemose, or cluster figs, but prior to this, she mostly depended on the fruits that the team delivers twice daily to the island.

However, the dynamic of the friendship between the two females shifted a little one afternoon in mid-November. At the time, our team was observing Desi as she devoured some bananas distributed by our team, with Kimi watching from a distance.

As Desi ate, Kimi swung over to her and quickly snatched a banana from her hand. With plenty of bananas still in her hands, Desi hardly reacted at just one being stolen.

But Kimi was greedy, and having eaten that banana, then snatched another from Desi’s hands. This happened a few times, until Desi finally lost her cool and pinched Kimi’s arm in retaliation. This failed to stop Kimi and as she cheekily reached for one more, Desi quickly slapped Kimi’s arm so hard that she slipped from the branch.

Kimi, however, would not give up! She again tried to take more food from Desi, and the two got caught up in a wrestling match over it, both trying to quickly devour any food they could get their hands on, until all of it was gone! With no more food to fight over, the struggle quickly ended.

As predicted, once the food had run out, Kimi moved away with Desi keen to follow, but both Desi and our team members could not keep up with the wild female and we soon lost track of her.

How naughty of Kimi to snatch and run; to approach Desi just to steal from her, then leave once her dirty work was done! Despite these thieving antics, these two females have formed a strong friendship.


To help us release more rehabilitated orphans, please visit our Orangutan Freedom page.