Sepilok Orangutan Rehab Centre – see orangs in Malaysia!

This post covers how the Sepilok Orangutan Rehab Center helps orangutans and reintroduces them into the wild.

Orangutans are Asia’s only great ape. The orang-utan translates to ‘man of the forest‘. They’re found only on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra, so I was excited to see them while in.

Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre

After hearing about lots of crammed zoos, it’s great to be introduced to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre.

They take in orphaned and confiscated orangutans. They also have Sun Bears, Gibbons, and the occasional injured Elephant. Sepilok  provides basic medical care.

Then, they train them with basic skills to survive again in the wild. These are skills that the mother would normally teach. The goal is to successfully reintroduce orangutans back into the wild as soon as they’re ready. It’s such a wonderful goal!

Feeding are the best part!

Recently rehabilitated orangutans have their diet supplemented by daily feedings of milk and bananas. This makes it a nice tourist attraction. Feedings provide an excellent chance to see orang-utans.

Sepilok is a wildlife rehab center, not a zoo

You might think it looks just like a zoo. However, after a little more research you might change your mind. It’s so much more than a zoo. You’ll learn that they’re one of the world’s leading wildlife rehab centers! This is due their track record of successfully reintroducing orangutans into the wild.

The additional food they supply is monotonous and boring on purpose. The goal is to encourage the apes to start to search for food for themselves.

Sepilok Orangutan Rehab Cetre in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo
Sepilok Orangutan Rehab Centre in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo

How baby orangutans end up in rehab centers

This part is heartbreaking!  Baby orangutans are often captured and sold as pets. This destroys that orangutan family. Worse, it also prevents that baby orangutan’s development of basic skills. These are skills that the mother typically teaches the baby.

It happens more often than you’d think. This month a baby orangutan was found in Indonesia in a home. A family was raising a baby orangutan as a pet!  They’re cute, but this deprives the baby orangutan of basic skills. The authorities started investigating but appear to not be doing anything about it. Errgh.

Sepilok for education

It’s such a thrill to be able to see orangutans! Sepilok is great to educate both the locals and visitors alike. However, they are adamant that the education must NOT interfere with the rehabilitation process. Visitors are restricted to walkways. They not allowed to approach or handle the apes.

Skills for Baby orangutans –

Orangutan babies stay with their mothers for up to six years in the wild. This helps the mother to teach the baby the skills they need to survive in the forest. Climbing is most important skill.

They use a buddy system to replace mother’s teaching. A younger ape will be paired up with an older one to learn the skills they need.

Getting to Sepilok Rehab Centre

Sepilok is located in Sabah in Malaysian Borneo. Also, there’s more info at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehab Centre wiki.

If you like this, I also highly recommend visiting the Sarawak orangutan counterpart as well

Orangutan Interesting Facts

I wrote about it, along with interesting facts about Orangutans in Borneo here.

Baby orangutan birth!

Here’s a video of a Baby Sumatran orangutan, recently born in captivity at Melbourne (Australia) Zoo.

Also, here’s the rest of my posts ore on primates I’ve seen. You’ll notice that I love photographing wildlife!

Mabul Island diving and Hostel guide

Borneo’s Mabul Island diving is a great home base for your Sipadan SCUBA diving trips. Mabul is a tiny little island in Borneo Semporna Archipelago. I’ll share more on the great dive community and backpacker hostels.

Lodging for Mabul Island Diving

They have SCUBA diving backpacker hostels and bungalows with a great community. There’s also pricey luxury resorts too, like any island in a beautiful region.

The rest is the local village that’s built on stilts.

sunset in Mabul island in Borneo

Hostels and SCUBA dive community

You could spend $300 USD per night at the luxury resort and get a beautiful place with privacy, or you can spend $30 with meals included in a great community. I chose the latter.

I stayed with “SCUBA-Junkie” and really loved the community of divers.

Pictured below are some of my friends from Denmark, Sweden, and Canada. I kept meeting such great people.

group photo of divers in Mabul

Longhouse hostels in Mabul

You can also spend a night in the village amongst the local community in a “longhouse” hostel in Mabul. A basic room on stilts for 45 ringgit (~$15) per night.

boats in Mabul - view from Longhouse hostels

Scuba dive community in Mabul

The diving was impressive and certainly the best I’ve done. Even besides that, the people are what made it a highlight of my trip. I’m still in touch with people I met on that trip. I visited two of them on my Copenhagen trip too! It’s certainly been some of my favorite days so far.

Also, I loved meeting the locals. I met this kids in Mabul Island and did a whole photo shoot.

Additional info on Mabul here.

 

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