Orang-Pendek: Sumatra’s Forgotten Ape, is Richard Freeman’s account of several expeditions made to Indonesia in search of small hairy ape-men; like most products of the CFZ Press, however, it’s not that simple. You are getting two books; the first is a 200 page global survey of undersized, mostly hairy, “littlefoots”. The second concerns the expeditions, and both are supplemented by more or less relevant, but interesting, appendices.
Sumatra’s jungles are not the wild paradises Ivan Sanderson used to write about, but sadder places, being chewed relentlessly away by coffee plantations and lumbering; the food is wretched, traveling back and forth tedious or terrifying, and moving through the jungle so physically demanding that the author vomits from exhaustion. This is not a Boy’s Own adventure, but a slog through leech-infested mud, yet the researchers and their guides get results, including hairs, footprints, hand-prints, and even a sighting; an orang-pendek in a tree apparently trying to avoid being seen.
The reader is left with the impression of a rare but perfectly real animal, the existence of which could be proven by a concerted, reasonably funded, effort (of course, a lot of cryptids give that impression). While its discovery would be of tremendous importance, the orang-pendek also seems like a rather scruffy creature compared to Sumatra’s awe-inspiring tigers. This is consistent with the matter-of-fact tone of the book, which, despite everything, will make you want to go orang-pendek hunting.