Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Encounters with Borneo’s wildlife


HANG AROUND WITH ORANG-UTANS

Up close and personal: The imposing dominant male in a family of apes may well make an appearance, cheeky juvenile males could swing down from nearby ropes onto the feeding platform from nearby, while a mother and baby might be nestled in the boughs of a tree.

Feeding time at Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre provides a great opportunity to see these fascinating natives of Borneo in their natural habitat, chowing down on their beloved milk and bananas as well as other fruit. A walkway connects visitors to a viewing gallery where they can see these creatures in the semi-wilderness.

What’s the big deal: These creatures are in the process of being re-introduced into their natural habitat; the primary goal at Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre is to rescue orphaned orang-utans from mistreatment in such forms as illegal hunting or being kept as pets. The rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra are the only parts of the world where you can view orang-utans.

Plan your encounter: The Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre is located in Sandakan, in the Malaysian state of Sabah. The apes are fed twice a day at 10am and 3pm by rangers. For the more adventurous, there is also the opportunity to trek through the mangrove forest. As this activity falls under the jurisdiction of the Forestry Department, you will have to get a permit from them before trekking the five kilometre trail. You can also arrange for a boat return or accommodation in chalets in the forest.

SEE SOME TURTLE POWER

Up close and personal: Crouching beside a massive mum-to-be turtle after her slow journey up from the water then watching her dig a nest in the sand and lay perhaps more than 100 eggs, under the cover of darkness, is a profound experience.

Selingan Island is the largest of three islands that make up Turtle Island Park, located one and a half hours by boat from Sandakan. The area is home to the endangered green and hawksbill turtle species. One of the most important turtle breeding grounds in South East Asia, this island is a designated marine park that is home to nesting and hatching turtles every single night of the year. As well as witnessing the nesting process, visitors can get involved with transferring the eggs to a protected hatchery area as well as helping newly hatched turtles make it down to the water safely.

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