Portrait of an Orangutan Matriarch in Borneo

Orangutan Wildlife Photography: Exploring the Heart of Borneo



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A collection of the best shots from a trip to see the orangutans at Camp Leakey in Central Kalimantan, Borneo.

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    The resident matriarch orangutan at Camp Leakey in Borneo, 'Tutu' was an incredible animal to encounter when we arrived. Her sad eyes seemed to hold the uncertain future that her species will face in the years to come.

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    Tutu's newest baby was about as cute as cute gets. The expressions on this little one's face consistently cracked me up and made for an amazing photography subject.

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    Another baby orangutan 'cuteness' photo. I really liked the way that the afternoon sunlight shone through the orange fur of the orangutan mother also.

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    Once again, baby orangutans are pretty photogenic (and cute).

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    Tutu with her newborn baby orangutan.

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    This baby orangutan wasn't above a little 'monkeying around'. Ah, ok that was a pretty lame caption...

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    The 'Alpha male' of the local orangutan population at Camp Leakey is nicknamed 'Tom'. I think it's pretty obvious from this photo that Tom knows he's the boss.

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    Weighing up to 300 pounds, adult male orangutans are pretty fearsome animals.

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    When we first came across Tom, he was resting in the shade of some towering jungle trees.

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    When Tom stretched out and started to move around you could really see exactly how huge he is.

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    Tom obliged the camera guy with a 'thumbs-up' while shooting this portrait.

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    I cannot imagine how hot it must be to have all that fur in the middle of the day with the Borneo jungle heat.

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    The orangutan version of Rodin's famous 'Thinker' sculpture in Paris.

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    It felt kind of dangerous to make direct eye contact with Tom. Apparently this is often interpreted as a sign of aggression by dominant male orangutans.

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    Only the dominant males seemed to have the large fleshy lobes on their faces. Not sure if they grow them because they're the alpha male or they become the alpha male because they grow them. A question easily answered by a Google search I suspect...

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    The color of the alpha's fur was both beautiful and kind of scary at the same time.

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    Orangutans are apparently four times stronger than humans (pound for pound). We were told that if an alpha male like Tom decides to attack you, he'll rip off your face and, um, manhood.

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    Nobody needed to tell us twice to give Tom the respect he clearly expected.

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    It's tough to be the king?

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    The smaller orangutans gave Tom plenty of personal space. Still, you could see the more mischeivious ones testing Tom's boundaries. Definitely a form of entertainment I would not recommend trying.

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    As a photographer I was pretty fascinated by the human-like expressions you could see on the faces of the orangutans in Borneo. I've always been a believer in evolution, but meeting these amazingly intelligent animals in person only reinforced my belief in Darwin's 'Origin of Species'.

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    Remember those motivational posters from the 1980's with the kitten dangling by one claw and captioned 'hang in there'? I'm thinking one of those poster companies might buy this photo and caption it 'Just Hangin' Out'. I mean, you'd buy one, right?

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    Another variation on the Borneo version of 'Just Hangin' Out'.

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    'Hang in there'? Ahem, ok probably enough of the 80's motivational posters... I did really think it was cool the way the mottled sunlight from the jungle canopy above was backlighting the orangutan in this photo.

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    Um, so just when we thought we were done with the 80's motivational poster meme, we have another winning candidate for 'Just Hangin' Out'.

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    All jokes aside, the orangutans are a very endangered species facing an uncertain future.

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    Habitat destruction and degradation has been the most significant threat to orangutan numbers in Borneo.

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    The agility of these intelligent animals in the upper reaches of the jungle canopy was pretty awesome to watch.

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    Another alpha male orangutan from another nearby population.

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    The power and grace of these animals is pretty tough to describe in words, you really have to see it for yourself.

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    The huge male orangutan seemed to instinctively know which vines could support his massive bulk.

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    The facial features of this male are disctinctly different to Tom's. I'm pretty sure I could pick this guy out of a lineup with a high level of accuracy.

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    When the clouds moved in and covered up the Borneo sun, the jungle light became a lot more ominous.

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    Tutu was one of my favorite orangutans to photograph because of her highly intelligent facial expressions. Not trying to anthropomorphize anything here, but the similarities with humans and orangutans is pretty undeniable.

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    I tried to shoot a mix of close up portraits and wider shots of Tutu to give this gallery more variety.

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    Another one of my favorites of Tutu with her orangutan baby.

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    The afternoon light brought out some really beautiful shades of orange in Tutu's fur.

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    This is the saddest photo I took of Tutu while we were at Camp Leakey. Orangutans have a certain melancholy look about them and I was trying to capture it with this photo.

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    Tutu seemed to be observing me as much as I was observing her while shooting this series of portraits.

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    Rainforest conservation must be a priority for anyone who cares about seeing these gentle creatures alive and in the wild.

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    Tutu taking in our visit to Camp Leakey.

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    This orangutan wasn't as sociable with us as Tutu and also seemed to have a much more melancholy outlook on the future.

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    Tutu had a pretty noble face, especially when she looks you directly in the eye.

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    One of the more mischeivious members of Tutu and Tom's extended orangutan family.

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    Baby orangutans seemed to have a really playful spirit, and the ones that I was able to photograph were pulling silly poses like this one pretty often.

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    Mama and baby orangutan in the heart of Borneo.

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    We really lucked out with the quality of light on this trip for the orangutan photos.

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    I think these two were brothers. At one point they got into a fratricidal battle that left the smaller one screeching with terror.

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    I think this fellow definitely has a sense of humor.

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    Many other species of primates (such as this gibbon) can be found in the jungles of Borneo. Gibbons are known as lesser apes for their smaller size when compared with the orangutans. This fellow was hanging out at the Park Ranger office at Camp Leakey.

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    The park rangers at Camp Leakey stock feeding stations in the jungle with bananas and other vittles preferred by the orangutans.

  • Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo

    Orangutan Pictures from the Jungle in Borneo
    She's pretty happy to be munching on this fresh pile of bananas.