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Indonesia - Prigen - Orang Belanda ('Dutchmen') in the wild

How the Indonesian people gracefully named an not-so-pretty creature after their former colonialists

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A warning before you start strolling the pictures. Writing an honest blog with photos means that you show things as they are. There may be one photo that some people (I hope not many) might find a bit offensive. Yet, although nature is threatened, you can't always force animals to behave as some of us might deem appropriate.

This one is still acceptable to everyone I guess...

Indonesia - Prigen (East Java) - lazing on a sunny afternoon

Indonesia - Prigen (East Java) - lazing on a sunny afternoon

When visiting the Prigen Taman Safari park in Prigen, East-Java, we noticed that a pretty sizeable piece of land has been dedicated to a rather unusual primate, the Nasalis larvatus. I don't know how many of you are familiar with the early songs of the progressive rock band Genesis, and in particular the song "Squonk", about a mythical and very sad creature that was said to live in the dark forests of Pennsylvania. But if you do know that song, or if you ever heard about the Squonk, then it is almost inevitable to remember this song when you see our friend Nasalis Larvatus.

The most common English name for this (apologize me) ugly creature is the Proboscis Monkey. If you're English and don't know what a proboscis is, then be informed that the word means "nose", and usually a rather notable one. Now, of course the Indonesian people don't normally use the English or Latin name for this animal. In the colonial times, when the Dutch ruling the country were not univocally popular, local people gave this creature the name "Munyet Belanda" (Dutch Ape) or even "Orang Belanda" (Dutchman).


There is no unanimous historic explanation of how they came to use this name, but the size of the average Dutch nose, compared to the Asian average may have something to do with it. Or maybe the often pronounced pot bellies of the Nasalis Larvatus made them see a commonality with their colonial rulers.

The consequence is that when I, as a Dutch, would like to introduce myself in Bahasa Indonesia, and say something like: "Salamat pagi, saya Jacques, saya Orang Belanda", they might look me up and down, smile gently (Indonesian people smile a lot), and then giggle their heads off, and say: "ya, cukup jelas bahwa Anda memang Orang Belanda" (Yes, it's quite obvious that you are a "Dutchman").


The poor creature, however, is having a hard time to survive, due to loss of habitat in Borneo, where they are one of the most characteristic native species. There are many projects where they try to protect them, but at the end it is the wild habitat on which they depend, where they live high in the canopies of tall old trees. So even if deforestation would stop NOW (and it should!), then still it will take decades until the "Nasalis Larvatus" and other species like the Orang Utan can live a worry free life again. Frankly, it should not just be up to the local people. Hopefully, some day, they will manage to confront corruption and permanently kick out those big domestic and foreign corporations that are the driving force behind the total destruction of nature in so many places).

In spite of history, the people of Indonesia still usually welcome us with smiles. I think that especially we, Orang Belanda, Dutchmen, owe them our maximum support in these efforts to keep the country livable, repair ecological damage, and protect the last bits of natural habitat that are still there. I think we have a historical duty.

Posted by westwind57 08:29 Archived in Indonesia Tagged indonesia monkey borneo east_java surabaya prigen taman_safari orang-belanda munyet_belanda nasalis_larvatis endangered_species Comments (0)

Indonesia - Prigen Taman Safari, East-Java

A nice day at out to Prigen safari park, with my daughter and her friend

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After passing the area of Sidoarjo, where the sad events with the mud volcano continue to happen, the scenery became friendlier, and much greener.
On the right side of the road, a solitaire cone shaped volcano (Gunung Penanggungan) peaked high into the sky, and the land was more mountainous as we drove on.

We took an exit into the hills, then reached Prigen vilage and Taman Safari Indonesia II. I am not a fan of zoos, and I somehow had the expectation that the circumstances would not be good for the animals, because the Zoo in Surabaya city seems to have a bad reputation. It wasn't bad though. There are some animals in cages, yes, and aviaries too. And there are a bit too many “shows” for my liking. But on the other hand, they really have made an effort to create habitats, definitely if you compare it with how zoos are operated in some other Asian countries. It is clean, well maintained and spacious. It is definitely not the old concept of zoos like animals in tiny cages.


The majority of the larger animals live in safari-park style, spacious pieces of land where you drive through. In order to avoid trouble between different types of animals, the route goes through various separated habitat zones. In the center of the park itself there are all sorts of facilities for eating, drinking, toilets, education etc.


The fact that it is beautifully located on the slope makes it even nicer. At the same time it means (especially when it is hot), that a guy like me from the flattest country on earth may have a sweaty experience at times, climbing the uphill paths :P

201010 surabaya prigen 34 - my daughter and her friend

201010 surabaya prigen 34 - my daughter and her friend

201010 surabaya prigen 41  -  they found each other

201010 surabaya prigen 41 - they found each other


This morning it was really quiet. The park is really large and it has facilities to handle crowds, but I am glad that we had decided to go this early!
It was a very hot day but being in the mountains with a light breeze and just taking it easy, we had a great time.

Posted by westwind57 18:39 Archived in Indonesia Tagged mountains animals birds road_trip park indonesia friend volcano zoo safari tiger orang_utan daughter east_java surabaya spacious monitor_lizard prigen staphanie fresh_air Comments (0)

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