Prince Charles greets orangutan in Borneo rainforest

Charles meets orangutan
Charles meets orangutan

The Prince of Wales is used to greeting prime ministers and popstars, but he can now add orangutans to the list – after he touched hands with a great ape.

Charles met the wild animal when he ventured into the heart of the Borneo rainforest to learn about efforts to safeguard the endangered animals.

He looked on in awe as six of the giant apes came to a spot at the Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre on the island of Borneo, where they feed.

See also: Amazing footage of orangutan interacting with burns victim

See also: Orangutan freed after being kept in box for two years

The prince, wearing a cream suit and tie, walked over to where one of orangutans had climbed down to the lower branches of a tree.

The ape then reached out to the prince, who was holding a banana handed to him by one of the guides, and he stretched out his arm too.

For a split second the future king and the ape touched hands.

Charles in Malaysia
Charles in Malaysia

Semenggoh is the biggest orangutan rehabilitation centre in the state of Sarawak and is close to the region's capital Kuching.

Orangutans are only found in the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra and are threatened by the destruction of their habitats due to logging, mining and forest fires.

Earlier the prince became king of the jungle when he was taught the art of hunting with a blowpipe – and was hailed a natural.

Charles got to grips with the ancient weapon when, with the Duchess of Cornwall, he visited a "living village" in Malaysia, showcasing the lifestyles and customs of Borneo tribes.

Normally loaded with a poison dart, the weapon is used by the Penan people and others to hunt everything from wild boar and lizards to monkeys.

But for Charles the deadly substance was not used and he happily got to grips with the five-foot long blowpipe, following a demonstration at Sarawak Cultural Village near Kuching.

Charles and Camilla in Malaysia
Charles receives a traditional welcome of a handmade beaded garland (Yui Mok/PA)

When it was propped up on a stand Charles laughed and said: "You're allowed to put that up? But that's cheating."

Camilla gave her husband a few words of encouragement, telling him "don't suck", and he replied: "I'll just close one eye," as he looked down the barrel of the pipe.

A few cries of encouragement and applause went up from Charles' entourage when the first dart hit just below a five-inch (13cm) wide target painted with a bulls-eye some eight metres away.

Charles and Camilla in Malaysia
Charles and Camilla during the visit to Sarawak Cultural Village (Yui Mok/PA)

Charles turned to Kubai Uat, 33, a blowpipe expert, and asked for "one more, I was just getting the range", before puffing out his cheeks again for another go, but his effort fell well short of the target.

"Not right that one," he said, and before leaving joked with Mr Uat, who was wearing a large loin cloth: "You lie in bed at night and practise?"

Mr Uat said later: "For a beginner it was a good effort, the target is very small and if he can get that close he can hit a wild boar."

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