Saturday, August 2, 2014

Semenggoh Wildlife (orang utan) Rehabilitation Centre

After the Sarawak Cultural Village, we went to Semenggoh Wildlife Centre (Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre)
but, unfortunately, we did not see any orang utans that day!
Fret not, you can still see orang utans if you go when it is not a public holiday (hence not so crowded) and not on a fruiting season (then they will come to the feeding stations for feeds)..

About the Orangutans

Orangutan means "forest people" in the local language; the name fits well given the primates' superior intelligence and human-like personalities. In 1996 a team of researchers witnessed a group of orangutans making sophisticated tools - and sharing them - for extracting seeds from fruit.
Orangutans are native only to Borneo and Sumatra and are considered extremely endangered. Of the estimated 61,000 orangutans existing in the wild, a little over 54,000 live on the island of Borneo. Female orangutans typically produce only one offspring every seven or eight years, hence the dwindling population.
 Daughter had watched  "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)"and thought that she could cuddle one of the apes, or at least jostle and walk among them.

  1. Semenggoh Wildlife centre
 It was a long drive right into the forest reserve. all 740 hectares of it...
"The Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre is located just 12 miles south of Kuching in Borneo's 1613-acre Semenggoh Nature Reserve. Since 1975 the center has been accepting animals either orphaned, injured, or rescued from captivity and reintroducing them back into the wild.
The Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre is not a zoo; unless quarantined, the animals are not kept in cages and are free to roam about the thick, green forest canopy."
 finally we reached !!!!......the reserve looked serene and kept me calm....Rather than just attracting tourists, the primary goal of the wildlife center is to actually rehabilitate animals and get them back into the wild if at all possible.

It is called a rehabilitation centre because:.....

The biggest problem orangutan's face is the destruction of 

their habitat due to logging, mining and forest fires, as well 

as fragmentation of their habitat by roads. Too often 

orangutans are forced out of their natural habitat. 

Rehabilitated animals are released into the wild whenever 

they are ready.....

However, the sighting of orangutans is not guaranteed as the animals are often able to find their own food in the surrounding forests (which, of course, is a good thing). 

 The main goal of Semenggoh Wildlife Centre is: "To 

rehabilitate confiscated wildlife that have been incapacitated 

or handicapped due to prolonged captivity by humans with 

the objective of releasing them to the forests eventually." Of 

course this implies that visitors should never touch, hold, 

feed or play with the orangutans.

 We were eager to see the orang utans and prepped ourselves for the long walk deep into the forest reserve, to reach the feeding stations where we may be able to catch a glimpse of the gentle apes

Visiting the Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre

When first arriving at the Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre you must purchase a ticket from the window near the entrance. From the entrance, it is necessary to walk nearly a mile down the paved path to the orangutan area.
 There is also a visitor's information center where you can 

find more information about the orangutans in Malaysia and 

the dire situation they are in.

The soft toy I am hugging is actually a replica of Ritchie, the alpha male of the orang utan community!
Since I could be sight any orang utan that day, I bought the small soft toy, as a donation to the rehabilitation centre. 

 The entrance to the centre

 The Semenggoh Wildlife Centre is the biggest Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in Sarawak; established in 1975 as a sanctuary for the injured and orphaned orangutans. Together with the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in Sabah this is the most well known rehabilitation center for tourists to visit. Tourists should not mistake both Semenggoh and Sepilok as actual tourist attractions; both wildlife centers are intended to rehabilitate orangutans and educate visitors at the same time. That said; nothing beats an encounter with a wild orangutan during a jungle trek in one of the national parks on Borneo. In comparison with Sepilok the wildlife center in Semenggoh is usually less crowded. As it is only a 30 minute drive from the city of Kuching; tourists can easily go to the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre.

 Before we went into the reserve, the chief ranger gave a briefing and warned us ot to provoke or anger the apes, and to keep all children safe from any ape attack.
 "He explained the definition of wild and how the 
orangutans live here. He declared that if the orangutan 

acts in self-defence, the park would NOT be liable, since 

it would attack if threatened. Especially the alpha male.

 You don’t in any way mess with the alpha male."

 by Backpacker
 We waited for a very long time here!

Feeding Times

Orangutans are extremely reclusive and usually the only opportunity to get decent photographs is during the organized feeding times. Even then, there are no guarantees and possibly only one or two orangutans may show themselves to collect fruit left on platforms.
  • Morning: Between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m.
  • Afternoon: Between 3 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.
 He says that it is the fruiting season, and the apes are not coming out as they could easily find their own food and were full
 He also said that Ritchie, the king of the brood, or the alpha male, was agitated and irritated by younger apes who were usurping his place as the patriarch of the tribe.

 Finally the ok was given by the other ranger and we walked into the reserve to get to the feeding station
 I found myself ill equipped and so not dressed for a walk in the jungle...the ranger said..."lose your big bags, wear flat shoes, dress in comfortable sweat shirts and shorts..."

 Then we were led to another place where we might be able to see them hanging and swinging from the trees

We walked, and trekked, and hiked, and sweated, and talked in whispers and hushed tones...

 it was now a single file, and deeper into the jungle...and we are supposed to see Ritchie on the raised platform feeding....
  The orangutans at the wildlife center are fed twice daily 

between 9am and 10am & between 3pm and 3.30pm; 

visitors can witness this from a special visitors' platform.

.......ypu can watch youtube of the apes feeding here:

 This picture shows how others have sighted Ritchie on a good day.. Such a beautiful coat of fur!!
 You can also be treated to sights of mother ape, with baby ape having a swinging time....all of them have names
 wow!!! carefree and wild, like humans never existed....
except that, all these pictures are sourced from the internet, because....


We waited and waited, and waited!!! But nothing happened!

I felt so sorry for the Mat Sallehs because they came from so far and did not get to see any orang utan that day.  Those in front, right behind the forest ranger managed to see some in a distance:
this picture is taken from a photo from one of group members who was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of an ape getting a milk bottle from the ranger....

so if you are patient, you will get see some orang utan after all.

"The Bornean species of orangutans is labeled endangered; numerous wildlife organizations estimate the amount of Bornean orangutans somewhere between 27,000 and 69,000."

"Currently, there are 26 semi-wild orangutans at 

Semenggoh in total; roaming free within a 740 hectare forest

 reserve. "

As you can see from the pictures of all the apes, they have names, and they are almost domesticated and tame...
 Seduku - the "grandmother" at the Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre - was born in 1971 and has given birth to several offspring. Ritchie - the alpha male in the refuge - weighs over 300 pounds and was rescued by a journalist. Most of the orangutans at the center are named and the rangers can easily identify them with a glance.

Map of the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre

Rules and Safety When Viewing Orangutans

  • Be quiet.
  • Turn the flash off on your camera!
  • Never get closer than 20 feet to an orangutan, they have been known to injure humans.
  • Do not stay directly below orangutans if they are overhead.
  • Absolutely no food, water bottles, or smoking are allowed around the orangutans.

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