Sabah, Borneo: Day 4-10

Trip Start Sep 07, 2016
Trip End Jan 06, 2017

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Flag of Malaysia  , Sabah,
Monday, September 12, 2016

Sandakan - Sepilok - Kinabatangan - Sepilok - Sandakan

On monday morning I got up early to catch the bus to Sandakan. I was told the first bus would pass around nine in the morning so I made sure I was there on time. After a three hour wait the first bus finally showed up. From there it was a 5h journey to Sandakan. 
My plan was to get there earlier so I could make arrangements to go to turtle island after I got back from the jungle but because we arrived so late, that plan did not happen. 

The next day I travelled on to Sepilok. After checking in, I went to pay the Sun Bears a visit. The sun bear is the smallest of the bear species but also one of the most threatened. They are named after the splotch of yellow fur that spreads like a bright V across their chests. These animals are endangered due to habitat loss and Chinese traditional medicine. In China and Vietnam the bears are strapped in tiny cages and hooked to IV's to pump the bile from their gallbladders. Also their claws and fur are sold on the black market within these countries. 

Wednesday morning was Orang-Utan morning.  I arrived early to the conservation centre to get a good spot at the feeding platform. Unfortunately not one orang-utan showed up for some yummy fruit. So after that disappointment it was of to the nursery to see the young ones play around and eat some fruit (the pictures are not very clear, they were taken from behind plexi glass).
Orphaned, injured or displaced orang-utans are brought to Sepilok to be rehabilitated to return to forest life. The centre covers about 40sq km of forest where the orang-utans can live.
The rehabilitation process starts as soon as the orang-utan is admitted to the centre with a thorough health examination, followed by a quarantine period to eliminate diseases being transmitted.
Young orang-utans spend time in the nursery learning skills essential to jungle life such as the ability to find food, build nests and even climb, skills they would learn from their mother. Once ready they move to the outdoor nursery where their freedom is increased and their dependence on food and emotional support is decreased. Eventually, mist animals achieve total independence and become integrated into the sepilok wild orang-utan population.

Some facts:
- there are 2 species of orang-utans: Sumatran orang-utan and Bornean orang-utan
- the orang-utans are the only great ape outside of Africa
- they are strictly arboreal, meaning they live in the trees
- about 96,4% of our DNA are identical to orang-utans
- the orang-utan has the longest childhood dependence on the mother of any wild animal in the world

After this interesting morning, it was time to head to the Kinabatangan jungle for two days. After an hour car drive and 2h boat ride we finally made it to camp in the late afternoon. We were lucky to spot some wild orang-utans, hornbills and lots of Macaques along the river. The two days consisted of night/morning cruises and jungle walks. We spotted a large number of animals including several kinds of monkeys, birds, a crocodile, river snake, bornean pygme squirrel etc. Every time we were split into two groups and sometimes one group was luckier then the other. On the last night the other group spotted to very rare monkeys, a slow loris and western tarsier. I must admit I was very jealous!
The camp facilities were basic, meaning no running water just river water to wash yourself, toilets were flushed with buckets of water you had to fill up and we slept in open huts on mattresses covered with mosquito nets. The food was amazing, as we were in the middle of nowhere in the jungle. 
After I got back from the jungle I tried my luck again at the orang-utan centre. This time I got lucky. Two orang-utans showed up at the feeding platform and one of them even had a small baby with her. My day was made!! Another quick look at the nursery after the feeding and then it was on to the Rainforest Discovery Centre. I did not spend much time here due to a bird festival that was going on. The place was swamped and every local seemed to take pictures of me secretly or some were polite and asked for a selfie. I still don't understand why because I was sweaty all over and all read in my face from the heat, not very attractive! Oh well they had their fun with the white person. :-D

Saturday morning I took the bus back to Sandakan. This time I took some time to explore the city. I walked the heritage trail to all the sites here in town. Not that many really but I took my time and had lunch at the Agnes Keith House, a western meal for a change. Did not feel like rice and noodles today. ;-)

They say sunday is a rest day but I went out again for the day. My first stop was at the travel agency next to my hostel to book my trip to turtle island, after that it was of to the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary. 
The proboscis monkey or better known ad the nose of Borneo, are a species only found here in Sabah, Malaysia. The males are characterised by their big noses and 'red chilis' (you will know what i mean when you see the pictures). They only have one goal and that is to breed as much as possible, that is why male proboscis jave several wives. They all live together as one big happy polygamous family!

Well I am having a chill day tomorrow bedore heading to turtle island.
Until next time!


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Ben on

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