In 2009 the CFZ expedition was fortunate to have an eyewitness ourselves in Dave Archer, and Sahar Didmus saw one pinned against a tree, before it scurried away from us into the jungle. The experience so moved Sahar that he burst into tears! Importantly, there has been a considerable body of scientific evidence that has been gathered to support the existence of the orang-pendek. For example, previous expeditions I have led in 2001 and 2004 brought back both prints and hair samples.
These were analysed by various international experts, including Drs Chivers, Meldrum and Brunner, who all came to the conclusion that they were from an `unknown primate`. Most readers of this piece will recall the success we had in 2009, when the hair samples we brought back were analysed by Lars Thomas, who again came to the conclusion that they were from an `unknown primate`.
Thus, because of the body of evidence gathered, the discussion has moved away from whether the orang-pendek exists, to what it actually is. This is what the Sumatra expedition this year seeks to achieve: a further refining of that process, hopefully with greater determinative evidence so that we can pin down the creature once and for all!! The team, as it stands, will comprise the following members: Dr Chris Clark, Richard Freeman, Dave Archer, Jon McGowan, Lisa Dowley, Andrew Sanderson, and Rebecca and Mike from CFZ Australia. I will again be leading the overall expedition team.
However, with a bigger group we will have the luxury of covering a wider area so the plan is, at present, to cover two locations. I will take one team to the Lake at Gunung Tujuh, whilst the other team, which will concentrate on the edges of the farmlands and villages, will be led by Dr Chris Clark.
Chris's team in particular will focus on the areas where there has been a concentration of orang-pendek activity in recent years. That way we get to maximise our chances, of both gathering evidence, and actually seeing it! We are aware it is always a long shot with these expeditions. More often than not, nothing is found, but our previous success must offer some encouragement. Please wish us luck in our endeavours.
This will be the sixth time that I have been to Sumatra, looking for evidence of the orang-pendek. In that time, I have been struck by the continuing pace of logging and the general deforestation, despite the efforts of the guides and rangers who accompany us. Leaving it alone just isn't an option - be in no doubt that time is running out for the orang-pendek and the area it inhabits. Our work may; just may encourage the habitat to be preserved. That has to be our ultimate objective. We hope to do some good as we continue our work. So, its once more off into the jungle with stout hearts and loose bowels!