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The Wonderful Work At Sepilok
Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre (Sabah, Malaysia)
Member Name: MollyWH
Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre (Sabah, Malaysia)
Advantages: get to see these beautiful creatures up close
Disadvantages: you have to pay to take your camera in
I travelled to Borneo in October 2006. I chose this destination as I am fascinated by animals and this country seemed to offer lots of wildlife trips. Sepilok Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre was one of the trips I took part in.
Where Is It?
Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre is in a place called Sepilok which is in the Sabah District of Borneo. We had this trip included as part of a three day excursion so all our travel was arranged for us. I think most people that visit this centre do it on some kind of excursion so travel arrangements shouldn't really be a problem
The Rehabilitation Centre consists of 43 square kilometres of the Kabil Sepilok Forest Reserve. This land is protected and there are between 60 and 80 orang-utans which live wildly and free within the reserve.
The Rehabilitation Centre was set up to rehabilitate orphaned and injured orang-utans. The Centre provides medical care for orang-utans as well as rehabilitating them back into the wild where they belong. People in Malaysia can keep orang-utans as pets which is illegal and often results in the young orang-utan becoming malnourished due to incorrect diet and care. The Rehabilitation Centre also rescue orang-utans that are being kept as pets, and nurse them back to help.
I am unable to give an actually price for doing this trip alone as we did this trip as part of a three day excursion which was included in our package holiday. I paid £860 for a 15 night trip which included the
When we arrived at Sepilok, we were told that we would need to pay a 'camera fee' which basically means we got charged for taking our cameras into the centre. We paid 10 ringets which is about £1.40 for each camera which I didn't think was too bad and it meant we could take all the pictures we wanted, plus all the money goes towards the Rehabilitation Centre.
The Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre
The Centre consists of a nursery, a medical and quarantine centre and feeding platforms.
Normally this is not open to the public but we were extremely fortunate to be allowed inside here. Normally the only section open to tourists is where you can go onto the feeding platforms and watch the orang-utans being fed. However, the day before we arrived at the Centre, there had been a large storm which had destroyed the feeding platform. Not wanting to let down their visitors, they opened the Nursery to us.
The Nursery is a fairly large area of land which consists of quite a few trees, with various ropes tied between the trees and also a large wooden platform which is at the base of a large group of trees. The Nursery section of the centre is based around rehabilitating the younger orang-utans.
Quite often, this orang-utans have had no parents to look after then, so their skills are very limited. They need to be taught how to climb so that when they are released into the Forest, they will be able to fend for themselves. The centre pair up the younger orang-utans with slightly older ones to enable the youngsters to copy the older apes and learn how to climb. There is a nursery assistant (a person, not an orang-utan) that sits on the wooden platform and encourages the baby to attempt to climb between the trees and the ropes. Sometimes the babies are extremely reluctant to even attempt climbing and we could see a young orang-utan that kept going back to the nursery assistant and trying to cuddle him because he was scared about climbing. The nursery assistant kept walking the baby back to the ropes and encouraging him to climb.
The Centre focuses on these animals being as wild as possible so they try and limit the amount of human contact they have, but to a certain extent the keeper's become a surrogate Mum for the babies while before they are released.
As I already said, we were very privileged to have seen this section as it is not normally open to the public. We were allowed to watch the orang-utans from around 30 feet away and got lots of chances to take some photos. We were sort of left to our own devices here, the area we were allowed in was cordoned off to make sure no visitors got too close to the orang-utans.
We had chance to witness the orang-utans learning to climb, interacting with other apes and we also saw the keeper showing the orang-utans how to climb.
The Feeding Platform
Although we were actually unable to see this part due to the large storm, I will still give you a brief outline of this as this is the area where all tourists will be taken to.
As part of the Rehabilitation scheme, feeding platforms are erected at various stages throughout the Sepilok reserve. This is so that when orang-utans are first released back into the wild, the have stages where they can come back to and feed while they are still learning to fend for themselves in the protected forest.
At set times throughout the day, the keepers take groups of tourists to the feeding platform which is laden with food for the orang-utans to help themselves to. You are not actually allowed to feed the orang-utans yourself as human contact is kept to a minimum at this stage of Rehabilitation but you can get extremely close to the Oran tangs and watch these beautiful creatures feeding in their natural environment.
My parents have also taken part in this trip (although it was 3 years ago) and they really enjoyed this section as basically the orang-utans are verging on wild by this point and I can imagine it must be incredible to get this close to nature and observe it.
The Rehabilitation Centre had a large cinema area which could seat about 100 people. In here, we were shown a video about the work that happens at Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre. The video lasts about 30 minutes and I found it very interesting, as we got to see a side of the Rehabilitation Centre that we didn't get to see on our tour.
The Gift Shop
Although the gift shop was small, it was full of lovely souvenirs and the best bit was that all the money spent in the shop, went towards the Rehabilitation Centre. There were many items such as teddies, painting, bookmarks etc and they were all reasonably priced.
There was a fairly large restaurant at Sepilok which was laid out more like a café and served hot and cold drinks, ice creams, snack foods such as sandwiches, pizzas and omelettes.
The prices were very reasonable, we bought 2 milkshakes and a sandwich each (for 2 people) and the total cost was less than £3 which I considered to be good value as many places like this bump up the prices of their food and drinks as there are no other facilities for you to get something to eat.
If you are going to Borneo then I would 100% recommend this trip. I felt that we were really privileged to have got this close to such beautiful animals and see the fantastic work that the keepers carry out at the Centre. Although this trip can only be done on o tour, the tours were very well organised and you were not rushed which meant we could spend as much time as we wanted observing the orang-utans. All the money you pay for the trip and any money you spend while you are there goes towards the centre so it is all money well spent.
Summary: The Wonderful Work At Sepilok