Friday, December 04, 2015

Monkeying around in Borneo

We made the trip to Borneo for one reason and one reason alone; to see orang-utans in their natural habitat in the wild (the islands of Borneo and Sumatra are the only two places in the world where orang-utans still live in the wild).

We haven’t had much luck on this trip of seeing the animals that we are searching out (jaguar spotting in the Pantal, penguins in New Zealand etc) but we had high hopes of seeing these hairy friends.

Malaysia is a huge producer of palm oil and Borneo is a large part of that which unfortunately means a lot of deforestation, at a real juxtaposition with the fact that the tourism industry that Borneo attracts is mainly eco tourists, here for jungle treks and to see the amazing flora, fauna and animals that live in Borneo’s dense jungles.

Due to the deforestation and sometimes unethical treatment of animals taken from the wild to be pets or circus animals, there are a lot of orphaned orang-utans in Borneo.

We were lucky enough to visit Sepilok’s orphaned orang-utan rehabilitation centre which sits in a dense jungle and looks after these baby primates and gets them ready to re-enter the wild. 

You can walk around the boardwalk through the jungle and spot orang-utans swinging through the trees and there is also a feeding twice a day where a ranger puts food out for the semi wild orang-utans who maybe stil need that extra bit of support after having been released into the wild.

You can also visit the outdoor nursery where babies who are yet to be released are learning to climb and swing.

When we entered the jungle as we walked towards the area where you can watch the feeding take place, we caught our first glimpse of these amazing animals up high in the trees.

We were so excited as now even if we didn’t see anymore at least we had seen an orang-utan!

But we were lucky because at the first feeding in the morning two orang-utans turned up.

Some days there could be eight, some days none as these wild orang-utans might have foraged for food already and not need this daily fix (the food placed out is purposely bland to encourage the animals to to forage for themselves).

We waited with anticipation while the ranger laid some food out on the ledge and before we knew it the trees were shaking and fluffy red creatures were swinging in.

It was amazing to watch them, you can really see how similar they are to us as they peel their food, inspect it and then munch away and play with each other (orang-utans are our closest relatives in the primate world, 98% of our DNA is the same!)

After the first feeding we went to the outdoor nursery to see the babies who were predictably adorable. My favourite was called Peanut!

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Monkeying around in Borneo