Malaysia: Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre
In North Borneo of District Sabah, near the small town of Sepilok, Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre is one of the most renowned tourist attractions in Malaysia. To rehabilitate orphaned orangutans, SORC (Sepilok Orangutans Rehabilitation Centre) was established in 1964, in the Forest Department. At the edge of Kabili Sepilok Forest the region spans around 43 square km of land protected to conserve the wild animals in the area. Around 8-0 orangutans are living at liberty in the preserve.
Sepilok Orangutans Rehabilitation Centre is the second biggest tourist destination in Sabah. With the aim of caring and returning injured, displaced and orphan orangutans into the wild, the reserve was transformed into a rehabilitation site. The tourists would be able to see orangutans closely when they are roaming freely and especially at the time of feeding.
Most of the orangutans that are housed at Sepilok Centre are those who are young and were rescued from the forest. The smugglers make their targets to baby orangutans to sell them illegally to the pet trade or wildlife parks, this rehabilitation site offers a great rescue to the young apes.
Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre not only provides medical facilities to orangutans but it also gives medical care for other species of wildlife such as gibbons, sun bears, elephants and Sumatran rhinos. Firstly, milk and bananas are provided to recently adopted orangutans as their diet supplement to encourage them to start silage for themselves.
The Wildlife Department considered the Sepilok a helpful and convenient tool to educate the visitors and locals but they are not flexible with interference in the process of rehabilitation. Visitors are confined to the boardwalks and not allowed to touch or hold the orangutans by approaching them.
The orangutan babies are kept with the mothers in the wild to teach them the necessary skills to live in the forest such as climbing that is most important for them. At Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre, a buddy system replaces the teaching of the mother in which a baby orangutan is kept with an elder ape who help the younger ape to learn the skills. It is said that climbing is the most important skill that orangutans need because they can go into the whole by climbing without touching the land. The Sepilok reserve provides a natural environment to the orangutans that later became less dependent on the food provided at the center and at last voluntarily return to the wild.
The initiation of Sepilok reserve had minimized the effects of deforestation on apes and illegal pet trade. A large number of young orangutans have been caught from poachers during the clearance of forests. The Government of Malaysia has now put an end to illegal pet trade and all similar activities by applying prison decree on anyone found indulging in these criminal actions.
Tourists and locals can also view the feedings at the designated platforms twice a day. The feeding to apes starts at 10 am in the morning and 3 pm in the afternoon that lasts around 30 – 50 minutes. Visitors can view the feedings for two times with a single ticket as it is valid for one day.
The most interesting and captivating experiences are looking at the vibrating ropes, shaking trees, swinging orangutans and board walking through the lush forest. As there is plenty of things to eat in the forest during fruity season various apes return to the wild. You need to get at the feeding spots before 20 minutes of the time so that you can take amazing photographs at a good spot.
The visitors should apply spray, plenty of sunblock and mosquito repellant before entering into reserve. They are suggested not to touch the orangutans as human diseases can affect the apes.
Entrance Fee for Sepilok Orangutans Rehabilitation Centre
At Sepilok Reserve the tourists are required to pay RM 30 and the fee for locals in RM 5. If you are holding any cameras and other recording devices you have to pay an extra fee of RM 10.
The revenue from ticket sales is invested into Sepilok Orangutans Rehabilitation Centre for the care of orphaned orangutans. This conservation project required a 24 hours contact and huge effort just like humans.
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