Wednesday, 15 March 2017

SANDAKAN: Visiting Sepilok (Part Two)

Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center
I heard stories that the idea of great movies were born when two American husband and wife adventurers traveled deep into the heart of Borneo and saw Orangutans for the first time in their life. It was in the early 1900's. This couple brought the tales of Borneo to Hollywood; thus Tarzan and King Kong were born! If those stories were true; wow! that is great! Despite these stories made it to the big time, the plight of the Orangutans and other animals in Borneo still remain the same; they are fast disappearing from the face of the earth! Only a ray of hope is left; the remaining clusters of forest reserve including here in Sepilok.

The Sepilok Rehabilitation Center is located 25km west of the old city of Sandakan. It sits right in the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve much of it is still virgin forest with a total area of 4300 hectares (10,600 acres). The trees here are huge. I am sure greedy loggers are putting their eyes on these trees and they are hoping one day they could get their hands on these areas. What about the animals? "Who cares!!!" That will be their attitude. With 10,600 acres; this is among the few areas left in Borneo with beautiful giant trees and the wild animals dwelling here.

Walkways to Orangutan feeding platform and nursery
I believe the pressure made by international committees, especially scientists and nature lovers as well as tourists dollars are the one that kept the North Borneo (Sabah) Government to remain rational. Otherwise all these would have been destroyed long ago. That is why it is expedient for more tourists and visitors to come here to maintain; if not to increase the pressure on the authority so that the remaining forests in North Borneo will not suffer destruction.

The Orangutan nursery center built in 2014

Back to the story of the Orangutan. Orangutan is a Malay word meaning Jungle People. There are only two places in the world that still have wild Orangutans; Sumatra and here in Borneo. In Borneo, it is considered a sub-species called Pongo pygmaeus and bear in mind that many of the wild animals in Borneo are always referred as pygmy; pygmy elephants, pygmy pythons, pygmy rhino and so on. Sometimes I can't believe it myself in our own backyard we have all these wonderful animals just like Africa; except they are all much smaller. However, I repeat again; many of the animals in Borneo are facing extinction (including the Orangutans) due to habitat destruction, poaching and also smuggling by pet traders. So sad!

The first English romance-thriller from North Borneo
Also Available Locally at THE BORNEO SHOP, Wisma Merdeka

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