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Orang-Utan & Asian Elephants (1996)

Acrylic on illustration board
40" x 12"
Limited edition offset lithographs available
(image size: 24.5” x 7.5”)
from your nearest Mill Pond Dealer under the title "Heads or Tails" (s/n 650 $145)
This painting takes a vertical cross-section from a Sumatran rainforest, exposing a massive old male orang-utan (Pongo pygmaeus) observing a procession of elephants (Elephas maximus) coursing a trail beneath him. The northern Sumatran province of Acch is the last remaining stronghold of wild orangs on that island. They enjoy much larger distribution on Borneo, the other island that still harbors these strange and beautiful apes. The word "orang-utan" means "forest man" in Malay, and the Malay people traditionally considered them to be a different type of human, as did the the Dayaks of Borneo, who were said to explain their failure to speak as a ruse to avoid having to work. Adult orags associate with others of their kind temporarily as families, but are ordinarily quite solitary -- far more so than any other large primate. They spend most of their days carefully picking their way across the canopy, following the ripening of figs, durians and other fruits which make up the great bulk of their diet. Elephants occur on both Borneo and Sumatra, a fact that has long puzzled biogeographers, many of whom suspected their introduction by man centuries ago. Recent observations have confirmed that the creatures are capable of making such a trip by their own agency. Incidental animals in this painting include: greater racket-tailed drongos (Dicrurus paradiseus), red-throated barbet (Megalaima mystacophanos), crested lizard (Bronchocela hayeki), and birdwing butterfly (Troides sp.).