Spotting Orangutans in Borneo, Malaysia
Welcome to the jungle! I wanna be like you ooh ooh – an Orangutan too 😉
A few years ago, we stayed at the Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort & Spa in Borneo on the chance of spotting some orangutans and enjoying the sunshine and beach. We originally planned to stay at the Shangri-La Rasa Ria and take an internal flight over to Sandakan to visit the Sepilok Rehabiliation Centre. Since it was the start of the rainy season, heavy rainfall the night before our flight had flooded the roads. The next morning we took a taxi to the airport only to be stopped after about 3 miles along as the roads were impassable. So unfortunately we missed our flight. How gutted were we. Luckily, the Shangri-La Rasa Ria had a nature reserve surrounding the resort and Ian suggested we should see the orangutans there. Every cloud has a silver lining!
“Over the past two decades there have been extensive efforts to educate the public and increase awareness and understanding of the plight of these endangered primates” - Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort & Spa
The reason why we chose to stay at Shangri-La Rasa Ria was due to it’s uniqueness of being within the Nature Reserve. The Reserve encompasses some 64 acres of tropical rainforest and offers the chance to see some of the protected wildlife. In 1996, the Nature Reserve was established in collaboration with Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre. The aim of the Orangutan Rehabilitation and Conservation Programme was to care for any orphaned orangutan in the Reserve before moving them onto Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre. Once an orangutan has completed the reintegration programme, it is then released into the wild, although this can take up to several years. Only a handful of orangutans have been taken into Sepilok over the past few years.
The Orangutan programme has helped raise awareness to the plight of the orangutans, not just in Borneo but also worldwide. Last year, the last two orangutans were finally released from the Nature Reserve to Sepilok.
The ideal time to spot the orangutans was during feeding time at 10am or 2pm. As it was so humid in Borneo, we booked on to see the orangutans at 10am (although the 2pm slot might have been a bit quieter with fewer people). We were constantly looking here and there as we crossed the canopy walk trying to spot any of the wildlife such as the flying fox or civet cat – unfortunately they must have known we were coming by their absence 😉
As we approached the feeding area for the orangutans, food was placed on the feeding platforms. The cheeky macaques were constantly hanging around the platforms trying to steal any/all of the food! Then suddenly we saw an orangutan swinging through the trees as if he was the ‘king of the jungle’. He looked so adorable with his punky orange hair and googly eyes; it seemed as if he wanted to play.
The young orangutans were very curious, trying to come near us but were shooed away by the rangers. I could have watched them for hours, swinging from tree to tree, hanging off branches with one arm whilst eating the fruit and veg.
It was devastating to see these young orangutans ending up at the Nature Reserve, often as a result of deforestation. However, the rehabilitation programme helped each orangutan learn how to survive, by teaching it vital skills for when it was released back into the wild. So at least some good was coming from this.
These programmes help save the orangutans from extinction in the rainforests of Borneo.
Have you been to Borneo? Have you spotted orangutans before?
[Updated 2nd April 2018]
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