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THE ART OF ORANGUTAN NEST BUILDING

Orangutans are arboreal mammals that spend most of their time in treetops. These mammals are known not only as “forest farmers” but also as skilled “forest architects,” with exceptional nest-building abilities. 

Most of their activities involve climbing, crawling, and brachiating through the forest canopy. In their naturally lofty habitat, they not only collect food but also build comfy nests to spend the night.

Carefully, orangutans select branches and leaves to form the foundation of their nests. With nimble fingers, they construct the nest’s foundation, ensuring it is sturdy enough to support their bodies. Next, they create a circular frame from smaller branches to establish a secure boundary. The finishing touch can involve crafting a cushion from young leaves layered with soft moss.

In addition to nighttime nests, orangutans sometimes also construct nests during the day for a brief rest. Interestingly, they may reuse old nests, reinforcing them with new branches. Even from the forest floor, keen-eyed observers can estimate how old a nest is based on the mix of green and brown leaves. 

The position of an orangutan’s nest in the trees is influenced by the diameter of the tree. If the tree has a small diameter, the orangutan must build the nest closer to the main trunk or combine the branches of several other trees to support its weight. The nest position can be at the base of a branch off of the trunk, in the middle of a branch, at the tip of a branch, at the top of the tree, or even in the branches connecting two separate trees.

Building a nest is not just a practical skill for orangutans. It is a tradition passed down from parent to offspring. As a close cousin of ours, sharing about 97% of their DNA with humans, orangutans demonstrate adaptability, creativity, and close relationships with one another and with their unique forest homes.

Text by: Communication Team, BOS Foundation Headquarters, Bogor, West Java

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