In July andAugust 2015 Pollyanna travelled to Indonesia in search of orang-utans, komodo dragons and other endangered species.
The main part of her expedition saw her traveling by river boat deep into the rainforests of Borneo. Most of the areas she hoped to reach remain completely inaccessible by road, but can be navigated via the system of rivers which flows through the Kalimantan region.
Pollyanna and her daughter and business partner Anna-Louise, who acts as photographer on the expeditions, hired a traditional Indonesian house boat, along with a crew of 3 (and a cook!) to travel into the heart of the Tanjung Puting National Park – one of the world’s only protected areas of tropical jungle. Pollyanna chose to visit this region because she wanted to make a pilgrimage to Camp Leakey – established by Dr Birute Galdikas, who has dedicated her life to the study and preservation of orang-utans.
The prow of the boat was the ideal place for Pollyanna to continue work on her sketches
Dr Galdikas is one of the famous trio of women hand-picked by paleoanthropologist Dr Louis Leakey to study mankind's nearest relatives in their natural habitat. (The other two were Jane Goodall, who studied chimpanzees, and Dian Fossey, who studied mountain gorillas.) When Dr Galdikas arrived in this inhospitable region in 1971 the orang-utan was much less understood than the African great apes. It is largely from her remarkable work that most of our scientific knowledge of orang-utans has been gleaned. She remains an outspoken advocate for their conservation and the preservation of their rainforest habitat, which is rapidly being devastated by loggers, palm oil plantations, gold miners, and unnatural fires.
Remarkably the research at Camp Leakey is the longest ongoing biological study to have been carried out anywhere in the world, and Dr Galdikas continues to live and work there for much of the year.
Dr Galdikas's conservation efforts largely focus on the rehabilitation of the many orphaned orang-utans turned over to her for care. Many of these orphans were once illegal pets, before becoming too difficult for their owners to handle. Pollyanna and Anna-Louise were able to trek into the forests on several days to visit three of the rehabilitation centres. Here in the early morning and late afternoon many of the orang-utans who have been released back in to the wild visit feeding platforms for meals of milk, bananas and seasonal fruit. It is a joy to watch these huge gentle apes swinging through the trees and down on to the platform for their food – recently released juveniles alongside adults who have living successfully in the wild for many years – and Mothers returning with their own wild-born babies.
There is nowhere else in the world you can see so many wild orang-utans in their natural home – and of course Pollyanna made the most of this opportunity to fill her sketch folders. It is naturally forbidden to initiate contact with the rehabilitated orang-utans – but some of the recently released youngsters still enjoy human contact – and if they initiate the encounter visitors can hold and interact with them. It is an amazing feeling to cradle a youngster, or walk hand in hand down the trail with a larger one before they return to their jungle home
The resulting paintings will be exhibited in Pollyanna’s private gallery in her 2016 Summer exhibition, which will be called Here Be dragons……..
While on Expedition in Indonesia Pollyanna also crossed the Flores Sea to Komodo to sketch the legendary dragons.
Young orang-utan at the feeding station
A sheet from Pollyanna's sketch folder
Pollyanna works on her sketches
Orang-utan and baby