The Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary – The Ultimate Primate Experience

About Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary

Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre is based in the Malaysian Sabah District of North Borneo. It was created to protect and offer home for orphaned orangutans in 1964. The rehabilitation is 43 sq km of protected land at the edge of Kabili Sepilok Forest Reserve. At least 60-80 orangutans are living freely in the rehabilitation center.

When Sabah gained its independence as a state in Malaysia in 1963, a Game Branch was founded by the Forest Department for the conservation of animals in the area.  Subsequently, 43 sq km of protected land at the edge of Kabili Sepilok Forest Reserve was turned into a rehabilitation site for orangutans. Additionally, a center to take care of apes was built. Today, besides, the orangutans in the forest reserve, there are 25 young orphaned orangutans in the nurseries.

The sanctuary rescues and provides medical care to several of orphaned orangutans as well as other wildlife species. Other animals who have received medical care from the sanctuary include; Sumatran rhinos, gibbons, sun bears, and elephants. Recently, the animals in rehabilitation have their diet supplemented by bananas and milk. This is to intentionally bore the apes and encourage them to find food for themselves.

The Wildlife Department considers Sepilok an imperative tool in educating locals and visitors. However, the wardens are careful to see that there is no interference with the apes during the visits. The visitors are restricted to the walkways and are also not allowed to touch the apes.

One of the challenges that orphaned orangutans face is the fact that in the wild they stay with their mothers to learn basic skills until there are six years old. With no one to teach them, they may feel lost. To cover this, the sanctuary uses a buddy system to replace the mother’s place.  A younger ape is paired with an older orangutan to continue learning.

The creation reserve reduces the effects of deforestation on orangutans and the young orangutans escape the “pet trade.” Babies are always caught during forest clearance or captured by mean hunters who slaughter the older orangutans to get the baby. The Malaysian Government is working hard to protect the animals and have set heavy fines, and long jail sentences on anyone caught practicing the illegal trade. Youngsters kept in captivity suffer which may lead to them becoming cruel or feeling neglected. Some orangutans raised as pets may not be returned to the wild. However, Sepilok takes the responsibility to rehabilitate them in a long and expensive process which may take several years.

Why Orangutans in Borneo Need Help

Over the past 60 years, the figure for orangutans in Borneo has reduced by 50%. As a result, they have been named as one of the most endangered species. The leading cause of the reducing number is deforestation activities that have significantly affected the habitats of the creatures. Up to 80% of the Borneo’s rainforest has been destroyed to create space for agricultural activities especially palm oil plantations. The first preparation step is burning the land; some orangutans have ended up being victims of the fires. This makes the rescuing job of the orangutans difficult because the forests do not have enough for food resources to live and reproduce in the wild.

Orangutans Conservation

Orangutans need conservation to see they continue to reproduce. Here are some ways you can promote the conservation of the Orangutans;

Visit the Sanctuary Respectfully

The money raised through the visits in the sanctuary is used in funding the medical and feeding programs of the orangutans. They are also used to rehabilitate orangutans and take them back to the forest to multiply their population. By visiting and learning respectfully, you support the work of the sanctuary as you have fun.

Adopt an Orangutan

You can apply for adoption of one of the orangutans online or at the center. When you go through with the process, you receive a certificate of adoption and a DVD of the orangutan you are sponsoring. The DVD can be a wonderful gift to your kids and friends who love animals. All the funds you contribute will help in providing for the orangutans in the sanctuary.

Stop Using Palm Oil

Well, this may sound mean, but palm oil plantations are the leading factors of the death of orangutans. Decreasing the demand for palm oil could significantly save many lives of the orangutans family. The awareness can force the oil palm manufacturers  to be careful with the lives of the apes, as well as encourage innovation or harmless alternatives.

Spread the word

Once you have supported the sanctuary and had fun, share your experiences with your friends and family. You can also share some of your photos in social media which may lead to more visits at the sanctuary.

Visiting Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary

Sepilok is one and a half hour away from Sandakan. You can use the public bus, taxi or organize a tour guide to Sepilok. However, if you have enough time and resources, it’s advisable to stay near the jungle resorts near the sanctuary. You get a bonus to see some apes from the pool.

Borneo Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary Fee

Entrance costs to the Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary cost 30 MYR and 10 MYR for a camera. Note that besides the camera, you cannot go in the sanctuary with anything including water. However, there are free lockers to store your luggage so no worry.

Fortunately, the tickets last for a whole day so you can see two feedings in one day. The feeding happens at 10 am and 3 pm and takes 30 to 50 minutes. The sanctuary opens an hour before each feeding for visitors to walk through the jungles, visit the platform and secure a place on the viewing platform.

Although the feeding time attracts many orangutans, sometimes especially during the fruit season only a few show up since they got enough food in the forest. Also, stay alert because only two or four will feed at the same time. However, waiting and watching the trees begin to shake, the ropes vibrating and finally, the orangutans are one of the most wonderful things you will ever see in your life.

Accommodation near Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary

Multiple accommodations could suit you near Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary. This is based on preference, size, and cost.

A good example of a cost-effective hotel is Sepilok Jungle Resort that is pocket-friendly and has a pool which could serve you well in humid days. The hotel rooms range from basic fan rooms to modern air-conditioned rooms. The best part is all the rooms offer a buffet breakfast by the lake; there is no better place of having breakfast.

Sepilok Nature Resort would be your best choice if you were looking for something fancy. It has a great restaurant/café serving which offers both Western and local food at affordable prices. Their staff is very friendly, and their décor is on another level of beauty. Check out more accommodations.

Having Fun with a Good Course

There is nothing that feels great than a chance to have fun and be a humanitarian at the same time. This is exactly what the Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary gives you a chance to do. You get to see the most beautiful and intelligent apes as you contribute to their protection. Observing the orangutans is one of those memorable experiences that you do not want to miss.

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