Images of this heartwarming encounter between a man and an orangutan is currently making headlines all over the world. In the viral photo, the ape appeared to be extending a helping hand to a forest warden wading in a snake-infested river.
An amateur photographer from Indonesia named Anil Prabhakar was there at the protected conservation forest area in Borneo when it happened. He was on a safari with his friends and was one of the lucky witnesses who saw the amazing interaction unfold between the man and the orangutan.
With his trusty camera, Anil was able to take a few shots of the beautiful encounter. The images show the ape leaning forward and lending a helping hand the man, who Anil later learned was a worker for the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOS) – a non-profit organization in Indonesia dedicated to the protection of endangered species. BOS was founded in 1991 and has 400 members to date. The group currently has 650 orangutans under their care.
The worker had been busy clearing away snakes in the river to keep them from attacking the orangutans when the curious ape interrupted him.
In an interview with CNN, Anil recounted the details of the incredible moment.
“There was a report of snakes in that area so the warden came over and he’s clearing snakes. I saw an orangutan come very close to him and just offer him his hand,” he said.
Anil said that the guard was struggling to move in the muddy, flowing water. When the ape extended his hand, it looked like he was saying “May I help you”? to the man.
“I really wasn’t able to click,” the photographer said. “I never expected something like that. I just grabbed that moment. It was really emotional.”
The guard then moved away from the animal and climbed out of the water. When Anil asked him why he didn’t take the orangutan’s hand, he said that “they’re completely wild, we don’t know how they’ll react.”
Anil said the encounter lasted for just about three to four minutes, but he was so “happy” that it happened to him. He posted a photo of the moment on Instagram, where it has been liked almost 35,000 times at the time of writing.
These endangered species are brought to the conservation forest if they are facing the destruction of habitat loss, are injured, or at risk from hunters. Their population is under threat due to these factors.
Their reproduction rate is also very slow. In the wild, a female orangutan will only give birth every six to eight years.
This interaction between an orangutan and a man just proves that these intelligent creatures are very much like humans – they also have a compassionate heart.