As sunlight fell through cracks in the trees and the morning’s dew began to evaporate, Popy and her mother prepared to leave the nest they had slept in last night. With Popy holding on tight to his mother’s body, the two started swinging from tree to tree in search of food.
Tucking into a hearty meal of fruit later that day, Popy heard a strange sound – something very close. Popy turned to her mother and asked, “Mom, what’s that sound? Like a voice rising and falling, song-like but strange.”
Popy’s mother replied, “Oh those are our friends, Popy, they are a family of gibbons.”
“Why do they sound like that, Mom?” Popy asked.
“They are communicating. Maybe the grown-ups are telling their little ones they’ve found a tree full of fruit. All animals communicate in their own different way,” his mom answered.
“Oh, I see… Hey, Mom, I’m going to that tree over there. The fruit looks delicious!” and with that, Popy leapt towards a new tree, laden with fresh fruit.
“Don’t go too far, Popy. I’ll be watching you from here,” her mom replied.
A short while later, Popy was startled by the arrival of a mysterious animal, smaller than his fellow Orangutans, with long, gangly arms.
“Who are you? You are not like my family, our fur color is different,” Popy asked, with her mouth full of fruit.
“Hi, I’m Obo, Owa Borneo – a Bornean White Bearded Gibbon,” replied the creature. “Actually, we’re family, in a way—we’re both apes and neither of us has a tail—just different species.”
“Yeah? Wow, I had no idea!” said Popy in amazement. Naturally, Popy had a lot of questions for Obo…
“Hi Obo, I’m Popy. Nice to meet you! May I ask, what do you eat? How do you sleep? How do you communicate with your family? How do you move through the treetops so fast?”
“Woah there, slow down or I’ll get confused!” Obo laughed, sensing Popy’s excitement. “My family and I like to eat forest fruits, sometimes young leaves too.”
“Just like my Mom and I!” exclaimed Popy. “Do you sleep in a nest too?”
“Nest? No, we don’t sleep in a nest. We sleep sitting down in a tall tree, ” Obo said.
“Huh, sitting down? Doesn’t your bottom hurt?!” Popy asked.
“Well, we have padded rears, so it doesn’t hurt us,” Obo answered.
“Cool!” Popy looked at Obo with wonder.
“When we communicate, it’s called a gibbon call. Male and female gibbons sound different, and pairs sometimes sing duets. We are known for being fast-moving primates, swinging from tree to tree with our long and well-muscled arms.”
Soon they heard more gibbon song floating across the canopy.
“Wow, it sounds like my mother. She’s looking for me, I should go,” Obo said and bid Popy a hasty goodbye.
“Ah yeah, I heard it too. Alright, Obo, see you later,” Popy replied with a friendly wave of her hand.
With Obo gone, Popy reflected on how happy she was to have learned so much from his newfound pal. She couldn’t wait to tell her mom!
Written by Petricia Hutasoit, Education Officer of BNF Indonesia
Illustration by Ferdinandus Eko/BNF Indonesia
Don’t forget to follow Popy’s Adventure Series on the next episode, Sobat Natura!
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