National Geographic Young Explorer's Project:
"The Lives of Orangutans"


For 2015, National Geographic Young Explorer Robert Rodriguez Suro has embarked on a year-long expedition into the inner reaches of the Bornean rainforest, where he is enganging in long-term follows of orangutans in the wild, outside the grid of established research sites. He's interested in investigating a simple question, whose answer has long eluded researchers at Gunung Palung National Park: Just how large are male orangutan home ranges?

This question has been difficult to answer due to the sheer size of male orangutan home ranges, which are often if not always bigger than the size of any given research site in Borneo. When male orangutans leave the borders of the research site and enter into completely wild rainforest away from research trails, researchers have to stop following them due to the logistical difficulties of being so far away from camp. Sometimes these orangutans return to the research site the same day...other times it can be weeks or even years until they are seen again. Where do they go? What do they do out there? Just how large are their territories?

To find out, Robert and his team are going beyond the borders of research sites, following orangutans for long-term periods outside the grid and track them via GPS. To keep up with the orangutans, instead of coming back to camp every night (as is standard), he spends his days and nights in the rainforest, surviving only on what he can carry in his pack and hammock-camping out in the wild under the orangutan's nest tree each night. This adventure may take him and his team far, far into the inner reaches of the Bornean rainforest, away from all civilization.

Throughout the expedition, Robert will be documenting the trials and the adventures of living and surviving in the wild, through social media, photos, documentaries, and writing. You can stay tuned and follow the expedition online through instagram, twitter, and blog updates from the field.

Short video Robert made for the NatGeo Young Explorer's grant application, to pitch the project he will be carrying out during 2015 at Gunung Palung National Park, in West Kalimantan, Indonesia. Shot by Robert using a Canon T2i, EF-S 18-55 IS II lens, and tripod.

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