Tracking down the mysterious Orang pendek
In 2004 I travelled to Sumatra to investigate the story of a creature called Orang pendek. Since then I have joined a National Geographic expedition whose aim is to try and get a picture of this creature.
We now have our cameras up and running in the forest and are ready and waiting for that elusive photo!
2004 Film 'Short Man of the Forest' is now available!
Ladies and Gentlemen, the award-winning film from the 2004 expedition is now available. Please contain your excitement for one moment and calmly place your order here through PayPal's secure online payment system. It makes belting entertainment, even though I do say so myself. Have a look at the film page to find out more.
How did I get into this?
I'd always liked the idea of exploring; I had managed a a trip into the Amazon rainforest, and seen most of Central America before I went to university. I studied Anthropology and Geography at Unveristy College London, where I came across the story of the Orang pendek. My primate behavioural ecology tutor was giving a lecture on primate distribution when he suggested that the Yeti myth may be a folk story that revolved around a real animal unknown to western science.
And then, in Sumatra, he talked of an ape-like creature which was described by local people as short and powerful, and which walked habitually on two legs, just like us humans. We know, of course, that there are Orang utans living in the forests of Sumatra, but they now only live in the north of the island. Here was a possibly entirely new species of animal that walked on two legs and about which very little was known. If Orang pendek were to exist, it would be one of the most important zoological discoveries of the century. And indeed if it were to exist and walk on two legs just like us, then there would be profound repercussions for our understanding of human evolution.
As I researched the story, it emerged that many people had seen the creature during brief encounters in the jungle, but that aside from a few footprint casts, no hard evidence existed.
Farmers claimed to have seen these animals raiding their crops; wood collectors described encounters as they bumped into the creatures in the forest, being too frightened to enter the forest again for weeks afterwards.
Despite extensive deforestation in Indonesia, there is still jungle remaining that Orang utan, tiger, bear, elephant and rhino call home. WIth the possibilty that there was a new species that walked bipedally roaming these forests as well, in 2004 I decided that I had to go and have a look for myself.
The photographs on this website are largely from the 2004 expedition. Here I am with a rather displeased monitor lizard that I encountered when having a wash in a river. Despite being in the tropics, there isn't much sunlight in the jungle, so please excuse my pallid appearance. I've never been very good at tanning anyway.
Orang pendek 2005 expedition
In the aftermath of the discovery of the 'Hobbit' , or Homo floresiensis on the island of Sumatra, attention was focussed on Sumatra and the bipedal creature said to live in the island's forests. National Geographic agreed to provide a series of remotely triggered cameras to attempt to get a photograph of the creature. The project team are currently placing the first cameras in the forest. We are extremely fortunate to have received this backing from such a renowned international body and we hope that the investment by National Geographic will yield dividends.
We are funding the expeditions through personal savings and any sponsorship we can raise. Please visit my sponsorship page if you are interested in supporting this exciting expedition.
Orang pendek 2004 expedition
In the summer of 2004, under the guidance of Jeremy Holden and Debbie Martyr, I spent five months in Indonesia on the trail of the story of the mysterious Orang Pendek. A film crew from Banyak Productions, the documentary film makers, joined me on my trip. The film, 'Short Man of the forest', is currently being shown at film festivals around the country.
Unfortunately, no evidence of the Orang pendek came to light on this trip, yet other teams claim to have found physical evidence such as hair samples and footprints. More information can be found on the Orang pendek page.