We arrived in Sumatra two days ago and woke our first morning to the wild and bellowing call of the gibbon. I’ve woken to coyotes, owls, New York CIty taxi cabs, the Colorado River down at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, the haunting cry of sandhill cranes in Nebraska, but nothing prepared me for this in-your-face primate proclamation. I’ve learned these are territorial calls. No worries gibbons. This stretch of Sumatran jungle is all yours.
We are visiting two International School campuses in Sumatra, the 6th largest island in the world and home to more than 50 million people. (Vermont, where we live, has just over half a million people.) Once lush tropical rainforest covered Sumatra from coast to coast. Like so many habitat loss stories around the world, much of this biological wildlife paradise has been lost to development and palm oil plantations. Yet, deep, deep in the untracked remnants of forest live lovely reddish-brown orangutans, and even some last Sumatran rhinos.
Listen to a gibbon here: