Anil Prabhakar went into the bush hoping to see a wild orangutan, but instead he ended up photographing a really lovely gesture of charity.
Prabhakar, an Indonesian wildlife photographer and reporter, has long believed in photography’s ability to inspire both emotion and social change. “Every shot, in my opinion, can speak for itself,” Prabhakar told The Dodo. “I’m more interested in portraying a feeling that I can relate to.”
Prabhakar started associated with the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation after learning about the predicament of orangutans owing to deforestation. He went to the foundation in 2019 to learn more about their projects, and they offered to show him around their protected territory.
“This group saves orangutans from habitat destruction, poachers, and captivity,” Prabhakar explained. “They’ll save them and assist them in returning to the wild.” They treat them if they are hurt and assist them in dealing with the trauma they have experienced. Then they relocate them to a temporary forest where they may become used to living in the wild before releasing them back into the main forest.”
Prabhakar witnessed a crew member enter a tiny river while traveling through the bush. When he inquired as to why the guy was approaching the orangutan’s habitat, the guards informed him that a snake had been sighted nearby.
“They have to take care of poisonous snakes since they are deadly to orangutans,” Prabhakar added. “So, this guy started clearing these bushes all down the river, and it seemed as if he was going at a snail’s pace because his legs were caught in the muck.”
Prabhakar observed the guy was having trouble lifting his legs, but he wasn’t the only one who was worried. A nearby female orangutan was also watching the incident unfold.
“All of a sudden, this orangutan approached the riverbanks, sat down, and observed what this man was doing,” Prabhakar said. “When he fought to get his legs out, the orangutan placed her left hand on the riverbank and stretched her other hand towards him.” It was a thoughtful gesture.”
The orangutan volunteered to assist pull the man out of the muck for three minutes, but the man disregarded the extended hand and walked away. Prabhakar was taken aback.
“This was absolutely new to me,” Prabhakar said. “Never in a million years did I expect to witness anything like that.” This orangutan, in my opinion, was attempting to assist him. It’s human nature to go to someone in need and provide a helping hand.”