Friday, June 1, 2012

Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, Malaysia

Seeing orangutans in the wild, swinging through the jungle, has always been a dream of mine. However, as it is very difficult to enter the Indonesian Borneo, where the majority of wild Bornean orangutans live, I decided to do the next best thing.

The Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre, in Northern Sabah, has been helping in-need orangutans since it opened in 1964. The Centre encompasses 43square kilometers of protected land and provides medical services and rehabilitation for orphaned orangutans. It's nursery is out of bounds for visitors, but the orangutans can be seen during the designated feeding times.

After hearing and reading different reviews regarding the amount of orangutans that can be seen during the two feeding times, we decided to take our chances and attend both the morning and afternoon feeding sessions.

I am so glad we did!

We were fortunate enough to see a young female orangutan during the morning feeding session, along with the rambunctious macaques.

Then, during the afternoon feeding session, we stayed at the viewing area while everyone else left. Secretly, I was hoping the young female took a liking to me and would come close to me, maybe for a hug, for a touch. Of course I knew that would not be in her best interests, but one can always wish. Whilst waiting, an older female with developing check pads came up to the feeding platform for a late lunch. However, the young female stole her spotlight by swinging on the ropes, slyly making her way over to the viewing platform. She walked along the railing and came quite close. The staff however, weren't as thrilled as the half-dozen or so tourists staying around. The staff work hard to ensure the orangutans are rehabilitated, with hopes of them one day being released and becoming self-sufficient. Needless to say, unnecessary contact with humans won't help achieve this. So the staff tried to get the female back into the jungle, eventually leading her into the dense forest.

Totally amazing. 

Read more about the center and rehabilitation process here.


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