Orangatangs - 96.8% human

Trip Start Mar 12, 2007
Trip End Mar 12, 2008

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Flag of Malaysia  ,
Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Following on the wildlife theme I decided that it time to see some land based animals. I set of for the obvious and inevitable tourist trap of Sipilok Orangatang Rehabilitation Centre.  I went with an open mind as I knew that this 'semi-controlled' environment might be the only opportunity I would get to see Orangatangs, that are gradually diminishing in numbers thanks to the deforestation out here. I am aware that the word deforesatation is perhaps a little midleading when it comes to Malaysia and Borneo.  To clarify, its the forests that have gone, not the trees.  Palm trees now cover 1000's of sqkm of the what used to be primary rainforest. Planted in perfect rows and havested for to make plam oil, must of Malaysia from the air closely resembles a giant vegetable patch, making much of the wildlife homeless or dead. 

It is for this reason that the rehabilitation centre exists.  Its purpose is to rehabilitation orphaned Orangatangs so that they can go back into the protected areas of rainforest that still exist.  Many of the babies are so young the don't even know how to climb a tree.  I assumed they were born with that instinct, like human babies have the instinct to put one foot in front of the other, but it would appear that they learn how do this through observing their mother. The centre basically teaches them how to be monkeys, what an awesome job that would be!

The centre, located on the edge of the rainforest, allows vistors to observe feeding times for the Orangatangs who cannot yet find enough food for themselves.  They are free to come or not come and visitors are told that their presence is never guranteed.  It is therefore a relief when you spot them swinging in and you have the opportunity to spend about an hr watching them.  They are amazing, incredibly entertaining and so human its almost unnerving. 

There is no interaction with them which is a good thing, that would be a step too far.  Like they say at the centre, in an ideal world, this semi-zoolike environment would not exist and instead we would be able to observe these animals in the wild. But it is not an ideal world.  By making the small compromise of allowing visitors to observe the Orangatangs, the centre is able to do incredibly good things. 
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