Borneo and Sumatra are the only places in the world that still have Orang-utans, a name which means Man of the Forest in Malaysian, so getting to see them in the wild was an unforgettable experience.
We visited the Sepilok Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre in Borneo. The centre is a great example of active conservation as they re-introduce domesticated, injured and orphaned orang-utans back into the wild.
In this rehab centre they take the orang-utans from where they are in danger, such as in farmer’s crops or where people have captured them to keep them as pets.
If they are healthy they are released back into a safe area of the forest but if they’re unhealthy or can’t fend for themselves, they are kept at the centre until they are ready to be released.
The centre has developed special ‘half way’ areas which are platforms in the forest where they are fed. One of the orang-utan’s old keepers will go to a platform every day at a certain time with bananas and milk.
The keepers also offer the emotional support the orange-utans crave which is something they come to rely on while they are in captivity.
The halfway platforms are available for the orang-utans when they are initially released while they are still learning to search for their own food.
The keepers only offer bananas to make sure the orang-utans don’t starve but at the same time they start to get bored with the same menu option and start exploring the forest for different things to eat.
Eventually they won’t need to return to the feeding platforms and will be entirely self-sufficient.
The centre also educates local people and school children about the orang-utans to help ensure their safety in the future.
When we arrived we watched an educational video and then went to a viewing area near the first platform to watch the orang-utans arrive in time for their meal.
There was a boardwalk leading to the viewing area where one orang-utan and her baby were sat.
They were just chilling in the forest before lunch time and they looked relaxed and happy and led the way to the feeding platform as we followed in silent disbelief.
There were two female orang-utans with babies clinging to their chests at the feeding platform. Some people were disappointed we didn’t see more but we were told that the fewer orang-utans we saw the better.
It means they’re providing for themselves and the rehabilitation programme is working.
Labels: Borneo, Orang Utan, Sepilok Orang-utan