Sunday, May 01, 2016

Here Comes The Sun: Semenggoh Wildlife Reserve and Kuching


Today I was going to do something that had long been the thing I wanted to do most in the world. See the orangutans of Borneo. I’m glad it has taken me until now to make my visit as I am more aware that there are right and wrong ways to visit wildlife.

We had purposely opted for Semenggoh wildlife centre as it was a rehabilitation centre. Rather than being there to entertain the tourists it’s primary function and priority was the orangutan.

For over 30 years they have trained young orangutans who have been orphaned or rescued from captivity to survive in the wild. It has been so successful that the surrounding forest now has a thriving population who are breeding in the wild. (They are fully rehabilitated and graduates from monkey school).

They spend most of their time in the forest but will occassionally come back to the centre for a free meal unless it’s fruiting season when there is enough food in the forest for them to stay there. Visiting to the feeding area is limited to an hour, twice a day, and there is no guarantee of sighting them.

We first read up about them in information centre. There are 24 orangutans (27 in the program but 3 have died naturally), 15 of which have been born in the forest. However some of them are now classed as totally wild and never return to the feeding area so there are 19 that you may actually see.

Before we entered the feeding area a park ranger told us a little more and also gave us 3 rules.
1. No food or drink
2. No flash photography
3. No speaking

Simple right? Apparently not to 80% percent of the population. It really grinds my gears that people can be such cretins. We are in their home. Let’s respect that. There is no need for loud oohhing and arrring. There is no need to give a running commentary of the orangutan or squirrel swinging down. We. Can. All. See. What annoys me most is that I let them annoy me, taking away from my experience. If I was the guide I would have removed everyone breaking the rule.

Anyway, moaning aside. It was absolutely incredible and everything I could ever imagine and more. We saw a total of 7. First up we had 2 males and a female. Annuar, Analisa and another male whose name we didn’t get. They grabbed their fruit and found a comfortable place to eat, with Analisa and male #2 cracking their coconuts open very loudly on the tree.

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