Tag Archives: Wildlife

The best wildlife posts and wildlife photography will be included in this section.

Orangutans in Borneo

I’m still buzzing from being just steps away from a couple of orangutans in Borneo!

Humans are very close relatives, sharing more than 95% of DNA with humans, and you could tell. They’re rare and were fascinating to watch.

Orangutans are about four times stronger than humans, so this is the closest I’d want to be

Orangutan infants often cling to their mothers for the first 2-4 years

Orangutans in Borneo and other wildlife

I actually saw orangutans in Borneo twice earlier in my trip, but they were so far away that it just looked like shadowy ape-like figure in the tree with a slightly reddish/brown color. It was exciting at the time, but turned out to be just an appetizer for this experience.

Quick facts on Orangutans:

  • You might think their name comes from the color of their fur (appears orange at times), but that’s not correct. The word orangutan is derived from two malay words:  ‘orang’ = ‘man’ (people), and ‘hutan’ meaning ‘forest’
  • Our closest relatives: The orangutan is a member of the Great Apes, which also includes humans, chimpanzees, bonobos, and gorillas (chimps are not monkeys).
  • The major difference between Great Apes and monkeys: apes do not have tails.
  • There’s 2 species of Orangutans: Sumatran (found in northern Sumatra, island of Indonesia) and Bornean, aka Pongo Pigmaeus
  • Population – there are estimated to be just 30-50,000 orangutans in the wild
  • Orangutans are big, the largest tree dwelling mammals in the world. The females are 75-110 lbs, 3’9-4’2. The males are typically twice that weight, at 110-220 lbs, 4’6-4’7 feet.
  • They spend nearly their entire day in the trees, 20-100 feet off the ground.

Look at them chow down! I get that hungry too!

Orangutans are the largest tree dwelling mammal in the world. Loved seeing orangutans in Borneo!
Orangutans are the largest tree dwelling mammal in the world
Orangutan arms are twice as long as their legs. Their outstretched arms can reach up to 7.5 feet!
Orangutan arms are twice as long as their legs. Their outstretched arms can reach up to 7.5 feet!
Eat, sleep, play:

Their typical day revolves around eating, resting, and moving between eating and resting sites. Outstanding!  Day travel ranges from a few hundred feet, to as much as nearly two miles (half mile on average). They make a new nest every night.

Solitary Creatures:

Males primarily live alone and only come together with females for mating. Adult females live with their offspring when their young.

What have you been eating??

Their diet is 60% fruit. In addition they also eat some plants, flowers, bark, ants, caterpillars, fungi, spiders, termites, and more.

Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre

You’ll find them orangutan rehab centers in both the Sabah and Sarawak region of Malaysian Borneo.  Both are a temporary home for various endangered wildlife.

They focus on orangutans that were rescued from captivity. You’ll notice there’s no bars or cages – this is NOT a zoo. The orangutans come and go as they please. They help train them with basic skills that they would have learned. The goal is to reintroduce orangutans into the wild.  Visitors can have a chance to see them at twice daily feeding times.

Also, I was on my way out of the park when I spotted an orangutan right near me, and continuing to approach.  Wow!

My photos in this post are from my trip to Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.   If you like this, I also recommend Sepilok Orangutan Rehab Centre as well.

Other wildlife I’ve seen in the wild

If you’ve been reading this blog, by now you’ve realized that I’m fascinated by wildlife. Outside of deers and raccoons in the woods behind my yard growing up, the only wild life I experienced was the Bronx Zoo (still one of the most impressive zoos I’ve been to!).  This was memorable!

In addition to orangutans in Borneo, I also saw other wildlife too. I thought that might be the only time I was that close to anything so human-like in the wild, but little did I know that the very next day I discovered peculiar Probiscus Monkeys with huge noses in the Borneo wild!

Other amazing baby wildlife from my trip included seeing baby elephants and baby monkeys in Borneo were adorable!  I also saw other types of animals up close, including sharks, camels,  tarsiers, monkeys, and more!

Where is Borneo?

Map with Borneo Map of Borneo island

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!