Mr Orang Utan - Man of the forest

Trip Start Dec 28, 2010
Trip End Jun 08, 2012

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Flag of Malaysia  ,
Saturday, May 28, 2011

After having such amazing underwater experiences in Semporna we really wanted to continue with some more Borneo wildlife interaction, and we just had to go and see Orangutans probably Borneos most popular resident. So we decided that we should probably go to Sepilok, which was a huge tourist attraction as everyone wants to come and see the largest tree dwelling human like apes. Apparently they have approx 97% gene make up identical to humans. (Sorry Barneys asked me to start dropping some facts!)

I still had my reservations about going to Sepilok as I think me and Barney had this romantic idea of being able to wander about the rainforests and have our own personal Orangutan encounter, but I think unless you're working for some documentary or work as a care officer we were never going to get that close (nor should we be allowed to) or hug an Orangutan. I’m over it now, but how amazing would that have been, they’re sooooo cute.

Anyway Sepilok was pretty good as this place was at the edge of a protected forest area where they could rehabilitate them and gently ease them back into the forest. After a few years they may just leave these feeding platforms and go off into the forest and fend for themselves. It still feels a little zoo like and impersonal with a 100 or so people waiting together on a platform for a glimpse of them. I thought it would be good to go anyway as at least we were contributing to help protect these endangered species. A lot of them our found in palm oil plantations looking for food, or have been saved from being held as pets. . There is probably only about 44% of Borneo being rainforest now, when back in 1985 it was at least 75%. Now when you drive along the road all you see is palm oil plantations. It’s really sad. It’s believed that if the forest continues to be destroyed at this rate that the Orangutans could be extinct in 10 years. Hopefully now with the government keeping parts of the rainforests protected and projects with Sepilok and education of locals they can save these fun time gingers.

Anyway despite the zoo like feeling on the feeding platform, we did have a nice moment just around the corner as there were a couple of small Orangutans playing just a few metres away from the rail. At feeding time one bigger one came to eat so we watched him for a while before getting a ride to the Nature Lodge in Lower Kinabatangan. The ride was about 2 hours from Sepilok, and it dawned on us how bad the Palm Oil situation in Borneo really was. As we sat in the bus we drove by so many Palm oil trees, and you just imagine what trees used to be there, what animals probably used to live there. Really sad, I don’t think you ever quite get it until you see it in real life. Even when we arrived to our forest reserve only down the road were there trees being mown down. If you ever plan to go to Borneo I’d try sooner rather than later. I’d also make sure you had a lot saved up, or a happy-go-credit card attitude as there’s so much that you really have to do (once in a lifetime right!)
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