As expeditions go, it’s a little bit fruity, and a little bit nutty. It might even be a little bit hairy. But does it walk on two legs?
Time will tell whether it’s for real, and that’s why, in spite of the kooky factor, I’ll be following the Center for Fortean Zoology’s 2009 Sumatran Expedition to find the orang pendek.
The orang pendek is an upright-walking ape said to hide in the jungles of Indonesia. It’s kind of like a bigfoot for southeast asia, a place which seems a lot more exotic than the heavily-travelled suburbs of Seattle which are still claimed by some to be genuine sasquatch country.
As for myself, I doubt that the orang pendak exists. There’s no proof that it does. However, previously undiscovered species have been recently discovered living in the many islands on the southeast corner of Asia. So, it’s remotely possible that something like the orang pendak could be out there.
The Center for Fortean Zoology is a rather unreliable organization to conduct the hunt. Its members are unscientifically eager and certain. “I want to see it. I want to see it so badly, I dream about it,” writes one expedition member. “I know the Orang-Pendek exists.” The group’s middle name is “Fortean”, a word that means strange, or extraordinary. Its members are only interested in things that are improbably. That means that soon after the orang pendek is found, they’ll find the actual animal rather dull.
I don’t trust the CFZ team to report objectively, given their fervor, but still, it doesn’t hurt to watch them at work. One thing they do have on their side is a great sense of drama. It’s like watching children pretend to be spies – completely implausible, but rather fun.