People seem to have a real fascination with Orangutans, is it because they are human like, intelligent and have a sense of humor?
Orangutans are native to Borneo and Samatra. They live in the rain forest but unfortunately their home is under threat as so much of the forest is being cleared. The trees are used to make furniture and the land is being used to grow palm trees to make palm oil. Every time I fly back to Borneo I notice how much the jungle is vanishing and palm plantations are taking their spot.
I have been to some of the national parks but never been lucky enough to spot one in the wild. I have heard them making their call but but never got a glimpse of these magnificent creatures. If you want to be guaranteed to see an orangutan they I can recommend these rehabilitation centres.
Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre
This would have to be the most popular place to see the orangutans. Many injured or orphaned orangutans are taken to the center to be rehabilitated and returned to the wild.
The Nature Education Centre has a video you can watch about the centre’s work and there are also some interesting displays.
Stroll along the boardwalk in the trees to a viewing platform. Witness the orangutans getting fed. They are feed fruit twice a day by the rangers, this food is to supplement what they can find in the jungle. Feeding times are 10am and 3pm (subject to change).
Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre is located 25 kilometres north of Sandikan. It is easy enough to do a day trip from Kota Kinabalu as it is only a 45 minute flight.
Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre
Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre is not as touristy as Sepilok and you have a great chance to view the Orangutans but it is not always guaranteed. The Orangutans are free to roam and usually only return when they are hungry. When the forest is not fruiting they will often return to get some food.
In some ways I preferred this centre as you walk along the paths in the jungle with your eyes wide open to spot an orangutan. It feels more like a wild encounter. While I was there I saw one large male, two females and two baby orangutans. You can get much closer to the orangutans than what you can at Sepilok.
It is best to go at feeding time as there is more of a chance to see an orangutan. Feeding is from 9-10am and 3:00-3:30pm.
Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilition Centre is located 32 kilometres from Kuching. If you are staying in Kuching it is easy enough to do a morning or afternoon trip to the centre.
After seeing so much of the Borneo jungle disappearing and the effect it is having on the orangutans home I urge you to not buy products with palm oil in it. Palm oil is used in everything from food to soaps. Over half of all packaged items on the supermarket shelves have palm oil in them.
In the past 20 years almost 80% of the orangutans habitat has disappeared. Please be mindful when you shop and don’t buy items that contain palm oil. We need to take action before it is too late.
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