An image claims to show an orangutan spearfishing in Borneo, which it allegedly learned from watching local fisherman. Today we'll take a closer look at this image and accompanying story.
It’s true, although the ape did not develop sufficient skill to catch any fish.
The photo was published in the 2008 book Thinkers of the Jungle: The Orangutan Report by Schuster, Smits, and Ullal. The description of the photograph reads:
…a male orangutan, clinging precariously to overhanging branches, flails the water with a pole, trying desperately to spear a passing fish…The extraordinary image, a world exclusive, was taken in Borneo on the island of Kaja… This individual had seen locals fishing with spears on the Gohong River. Although the method required too much skill for him to master, he was later able to improvise by using the pole to catch fish already trapped in the locals’ fishing lines.
It was also reported that these orangutans were able to swim across a local river to get food. This is notable because it has been traditionally believed that orangutans can wade in water but cannot swim.
You can see orangutans such as this on the Animal Planet series Orangutan Island.
The photo of a spearfishing orangutan is real, but the ape never actually caught any fish.
Orangutan attempts to hunt fish with spear (Daily Mail)