Today we were in the other Malaysian state on the island of Borneo, Sarawak, probably best known for its orang utans (their spelling, not mine!).
More about that later. What is now Sarawak was once under the control of the Sultan of Brunei.
In 1841 he ceded the territory to a British explorer, James Brooke, for his assistance in quelling civil unrest and chaos. Three generations of Brookes, who became known as the White Rajahs, ruled for 100 years.
In 1888 Sarawak and Brunei became British Protectorates. In 1941 the Japanese invaded the area, and Sarawak remained part of the Empire of Japan for three years and eight months. Sarawak was officially granted self-government on 22 July,1963 and later that year formed the federation of Malaysia with Malaya, North Borneo, and Singapore. Malaysia is a young country,
The three main ethnic classifications are the indigenous people (tribal), Chinese, and Malays. This is in contrast to the other Malaysian state of Sabah, which has very few Chinese. The religious makeup of the population is 42% Christian, 32% Islam, and 16% Buddhist. Sarawak is the only state in Malaysia where Christians outnumber Muslims.
We explored Kuching, the capital, which is considered one of Malaysia's most charming and laidback cities. We started our day at the Semmenggoh Willdilfe Center, which was established to care for wild animals which have either been found injured in the forest, orphaned, or were previously kept as illegal pets.
The Centre has been a resounding success, caring for almost 1,000 endangered mammals, birds and reptiles from dozens of different species. However it is the orang utan rehabilitation program that has made the Centre famous.
Today there are twenty-seven orang utans in residence, The Centre is located in a deep forest; heavy ropes have been strung among the trees to bring them to the feeding stations twice a day, and they KNOW when it's time for a meal!
We had less than an hour to observe them; tourists are allowed into the park only twice a day for the feeding times. They really are smart. Most of the ones we saw had snagged coconuts from the feeding stations, and took off on the ropes and the trees to enjoy them. They first stripped off the husks of the coconuts, then banged it on the tree trunk to open the top.
Next they tipped it up to drink the milk inside, then proceeded to crack it open so that they could enjoy the meat of the coconut.
We returned to the city of Kuching, which translates to 'cat'; we passed the large, colorful sculpture of kitty cats, and noticed later that many of the souvenir T-shirts had images of cats on them.
Labels: Borneo, Orang Utan, Sarawak, Semenggoh