Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Salud!: Enter the Jungle – exploring Kuching and Semenggoh Orangutang Sanctuary, Malaysian Borneo

“You like with less sugar or more sugar?” asks Mr. Chai, our taxi driver.

I smile knowingly at Luke – there is no such thing as a no sugar diet around here. 

We are at a very local, plastic chairs and tables, roadside “kopitiam” or coffee shop. 

Mr. Chai has insisted we stop so that he can buy us some “real local coffee”.

No doubt he is trying to encourage us to call him again though he needn’t have bribed us with coffee, his excellent command of English and informative chatter will win him our loyalty anyway.

We are on our way back from Semenggoh Orangutang Sanctuary – one of only a very few places left in the world to see the ‘person of the forest’ in their natural habitat.

Orangutangs which are found injured in the forest due to hunters or the encroaching deforestation or are found as illegal pets are slowly rehabilitated into the wild here.

The wildlife centre is open to the jungle and once the orangutangs are considered to be healthy and able they are released to roam freely. 

There are currently 26 orangutangs roaming in 740 hectares of forest. 

There are two daily feelings where fruits and roots are brought out for any takers. 

We’re told that many of the inhabitants are not seen for months in a row whilst others frequently return for the easy “take out food”. 

On our visit we were incredibly lucky to see 6 different animals including the second largest male (weighing in at over 100kg’s). 

My first thought was “wow, I didn’t realise how big they could be”. 

You could feel the power as you watched that male gracefully climb as if he was feather light.

A while later he gently tapped a coconut against a tree branch effortlessly exploding the hard outer shell.