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Published: April 26th 2018
On Monday morning we said a sad “Farewell· to the Nature Lodge and crossed the Sungai Kinabatangan to pick up a minibus to take us to Sepilok. It was a bumpy journey! Our driver said locals call the trip a free body massage! However, the diggers are moving in to make the road a new duel carriageway to accommodate the palm oil trade. We are so glad it isn’t harvest time, when lorries would be back and forth taking the palm fruits off to be processed. More rainforest destruction!
We arrived at Sepilok B & B at 11 a.m. after a two and a half hour journey and we were able to check in straight away. We have a nice little bungalow just a half hour walk from the Orang-utan Conservation Centre. We dumped the rucksacks and headed straight there. The Orang-utan centre closes from midday until 2 p.m., however the Sun Bear Conservation Centre stays open all day so we went there first (they are adjacent to each other).
Sun bears (aka Honey Bears) are the smallest bears in the world. They are indigenous to all South
Hard to spot bears in their lush rainforest
·"This is better than a cage"
.......black bit in the centre is the bear
East Asian countries and they are very precious; severely endangered, these gorgeous creatures have been atrociously exploited by man, the “Orang”, in Malaysian. The Orang-utan (Man of the forest), the pygmy elephants and the Bornean Rhinoceros are also high on the endangered list. Sun Bears have died due to loss of habitat (please try to stop buying palm oil for cooking), illegal hunting and capture for the illegal pet trade. Cute little cubs grow bigger and wilder. Then many end up living in hideous cramped little cages or chained up. In China their gall bladders are removed to make medicines. The centre in Sepilok has several rescued bears, living in a huge area of rainforest. Once they have adapted to forest life they can be reintroduced to the wild. In Sabah they are a totally protected species and heavy jail sentences are a deterrent to poachers.
When we entered the Sun Bear forest, along high walkways with viewing platforms, we were impressed that visitors were respecting the request to be very quiet. We also thought that we would not see any bears; it isn’t guaranteed. Kind rangers are there to help. After a while we saw one
adult, later another and after that four cubs playing. What a thrill! One of the rangers had a telescope set up and allowed us to take a close-up photo of one of the adult males through the scope. It is a great photo! One to treasure. The centre hasn’t been in operation many years but already has returned several bears to the wild, where rangers patrol against poachers. It is a very special place.
Having wrenched ourselves away from the bears and after a quick lunch we entered the Orang-utan forest. Again, there is no guarantee that one will see any apes, even at feeding time (and the big males generally stay far away from Orangs with clicking cameras! The viewing platform is about thirty or forty metres away from the feeding platform, which is good. People cannot get too close to bother the apes, although the apes can come over to the humans as one young male did. Rangers were close by and watching him carefully. We saw five adults and one baby. Two Macaques came by as well. When one gets a first glimpse of orange fur through the trees it really is thrilling. The
Sepilok forest is vast (no palm trees) and over the years many have returned to the wild here. Sepilok is yet another very special place; to visit Sepilok is a unique and rewarding experience. Monday was a very special day!
On Tuesday we flew back to Kota Kinabalu, to stay three nights before our ferry to Pulau Labuan, then after the weekend we shall get to Brunei.
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