Sunday, March 31, 2013

Semenggoh - Sanctuary for the great apes


AS naturally as the creeping vines coiled round the branches, the sure hands and feet of an agile ape grapped the rope dangling across a cluster of trees.

The primate swung effortlessly to a feeding platform, landing softly on outstretched planks to pick up some fruits, then doubled back up the rope with both arms and one foot while taking a bite of the fruits held by the free foot.

The shy ape knew it was being watched but acted in such a way that suggested it wanted the on-lookers to understand how it lives in its natural habitat.

It was chow time at the feeding station of the Semenggoh Wildlife Sanctuary, home of the Borneoan orang utan (pongo pygmaeus), a species of distinct red coloured apes found only in this part of the world.

Situated slightly over one km inside the Semenggoh Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre, the Sanctuary offers first-time visitors a very close encounter with these great apes during feeding time.

The orang utans are one of the most distinct primates roaming the jungles of Borneo. Their exact population in the wild is not known other than that the species is listed as endangered.

thesundaypost learned that the threats facing the orange utans include poaching, habitat destruction and trading in exotic pets.

According to a staff of the Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) which manages the Semenggoh Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre, the survival of the primates is very important to the ecology of the area and people should be more concerned that these apes may be in a critical stage of their existence.

The Semenggoh Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the conservation centres where orang utans can live in their natural habitat and where people can also be educated on the primates and the threats they face.

There are now 27 orang utans born in captivity and have made the Sanctuary home.

A latest addition is a baby orang utan called Jubilee — meaning celebration.

It was given the name in conjunction with the Sarawak Golden Jubilee Celebration this year. Its birth also coincided with SFC’s 10th anniversary.

The few weeks old baby orang utan is the fourth successful delivery by 25-year-old Minah which was brought to the Sanctuary from Lubok Antu, Sri Aman, in 1993.

The SFC staff said orang utan offspring were dependent on their mothers until they were at least five years old, adding that adult males would have no contact with the infants.

Even though food is provided at the Sanctuary everyday, the orang utans learn to be independent by roaming the 1,613-acre nature reserve and learning to survive on their own.

“During the fruiting season, the apes are hardly seen — which is a good sign as it means they have the natural instinct to know there is plenty of food in the wild — not just at the feeding station,” the SFC staff explained.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Semenggoh - Sanctuary for the great apes
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