Advertisement

The king of the swingers and the jungle VIP

There are only two places in the world where you can still see orangutans in the wild.

The creatures - which face possible extinction from deforestation, hunting and the rapid growth of oil-palm plantations - can only be found on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra - and Borneo was where Prince Charles and Camilla landed on Monday.

They touched down in Sarawak this morning, where the Prince visited a conservation project for the endangered creatures.

The Prince of Wales fed some of the orangutans as he came face to face with them.

But the Prince felt it showed how “tragic” their situation has become that he was able to get so close.

There are only two places in the world where orangutans are found in the wild. Credit: ITV News

These animals had been rescued by a wildlife project as their natural habit is constantly under threat on so many fronts.

The Semenggoh Wildlife project, near the city of Kuching, cares for the animals in a lowland rainforest where the Prince visited.

After watching "the king of the swingers" (to borrow a phrase from The Jungle Book) this particular jungle VIP handed a couple of them some bananas.

Oswald Braken, one of the conservationists here told us afterwards that they rarely let humans that close as orangutans have a fierce four-way grip which can be quite dangerous.

These ones, however, were calm, he said.

The Prince of Wales was hailed as 'good for a beginner' when he tried a traditional blowpipe. Credit: PA

The Prince and the Duchess of Cornwall spent the day on the island which is home to Indonesia, and Brunei as well as Malaysia - the country the couple are currently visiting on their south-east Asia tour.

The Malaysian state of Sarawak also has its own cultures and traditions - and the prince had a go at firing some poison darts - although his darts came without the poison.

He fired the darts from a traditional blow pipe.

The prince missed the target both times but he came quite close.

Kubai Uat, who showed the prince how to do it, said that his royal trainee was "good for a beginner".

Charles and Camilla were also punted across a lake on a raft made of bamboo.

Prince Charles is keen to raise the conservation issues here and he wanted to draw attention to the plight of orangutans.

Some wildlife experts fear they could be extinct within 50 years.

Hundreds of baby orangutans are also hunted each year and sold into the pet trade.

But the loss of habitat is their greatest threat.

The Prince has been alarmed by the palm-oil plantations he has seen on his travels.

The plantations also kill the biodiversity and plant life which has developed over thousands of years.

But, as the Prince of Wales saw today, the orangutans remain on Borneo and there are people working hard to ensure this beautiful species survives.