Thursday, March 8, 2018

Thursday, Mar 8th, Bilit Rainforest Lodge, Sabah, Malaysia

After a flight this morning from Kota Kinabalu (that's the mountain out the window), we landed in Sandakan, and drove to Sepilok.  There is an orangutan rescue center there that’s taken in, raised and rehabilitated, and returned to the jungle over 300 abandoned orangutans since its inception.

Orangutan Appeal, founded in 1964 by an Englishwoman (Barbara Harrison), operates the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in 43 square kilometers of protected land at the edge of Kapili Sepilok Forest Reserve.

And like other tourist locations within a couple of hours of a cruise ship dock, you’d better stay away between 11am and 2pm, or be prepared to encounter and squeeze between hundreds of frustrated foreigners with cameras following colorful guides holding signs aloft with bus numbers.  

We arrived before the cruse ship travelers left, and I was very pleased to step aside as group leader after group leader announced themselves, and led their flock off down the jungle boardwalk. All this to see one mother and her child eat fruit on a platform? Yes. The largest tree-dwelling animal, sharing 95% of our DNA, is worth it.

There is also a large nursery, where we watched five young orangutans learn to interact and acquire survival skills from each other.

The organization has a habitat which transitions even the youngest and least capable orangutans from complete dependence to self-sufficiency over six years through a series of inside and outside – restricted to unrestricted environments.

The facility provides medical care for orphaned and confiscated orangutans as well as dozens of other wildlife species. Some of the other animals which have been treated at the centre include: sun bears, gibbons, Sumatran rhinos and elephants.

In the wild, orangutan babies stay with their mothers for up to six years while they are taught the skills they need to survive in the forest, the most important of which is climbing. At Sepilok, a buddy system is used to replace a mother’s teaching. A younger ape will be paired up with an older one to help them to develop the skills they need.

To see all of the photos taken today, click on Thursday, Mar8th, Bilit Rainforest Lodge, Sabah, Malaysia.

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