Seeing the Orangutans

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Asia » Malaysia
January 16th 2016
Published: June 16th 2017
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01 Sandakan01 Sandakan01 Sandakan

A view of the town from our hotel room this morning.
Geo: 5.86667, 117.967

This morning we had a coffee and pastry at the cafe in the hotel. Our taxi picked us up at 8:30am. We hired him to drive us around for the day, so much easier than trying to work out the local bus timetable. Our first destination was the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. Here we would see wild orangutans and young ones that were orphaned and learning life skills so that they could be released back into the wild. We arrived in about half an hour. The adult entrance fee costs international visitors six times more than the price for local visitors. Although we thought the price was quite reasonable. We had to pay extra to use our cameras.

We had to leave everything in lockers and just take our cameras in. The first orangutan feeding was at 10am. There was a video showing, but we choose to go in centre instead, we wanted to see the real thing, not watch them on a TV. We really wanted a good viewing spot and were the first ones through the gates. Ahead of us was a staff member who was shouting out and walking along with a thick, long stick. A
02 Funny Bum02 Funny Bum02 Funny Bum

A monkey we saw on the way to the orangutans.
few minutes later we worked out why. We saw a monkey and started to photograph it, the man walked towards us and shouted at it. He was scaring away the unfriendly monkeys who also live here. The monkey had a very lumpy bum.

We had now arrived at the feeding platform and were way too early for the feeding. In this jungle it was warm and luckily not too humid. The staff member here told us to continue walking and go and visit the orangutan nursery, so we did. On the way to the nursery we continued to walk along the wooden walkway. Then ahead of us we spotted an orangutan. We were so excited. There was a staff member here who told us we could slowly walk closer. It walked along on its four limbs, climbed up onto the guard rail and then did a small jump onto a tree.

It hung in the tree for a moment and then unfortunately went out of sight. We waited, hoping for it to return into view. Looking up we noticed a couple of orangutan nests nearby. We learnt from the staff member that orangutans build their nest each night. A few
03 Walkway03 Walkway03 Walkway

The walkway in the centre.
minutes later it reappeared and was now walking along the guard rail using the tree branches to assist it. It was so entertaining to watch. The colour of its fur was amazing when the sunlight shone through the foliage onto the orangutan.

It was then hanging in the tree as it picked a piece of fruit and started eating. We were impressed by its ability to use its feet as an extra pair of hands. Its face seemed to show a smile, as it hung from the trees. Luckily there were only a few of us at the sighting and the orangutan was quite low, making it a great sighting.

More tourists arrived and we choose to continue to the nursery. At the nursery there were enclosed, air conditioned seating areas. We sat down and watched the active young orangutans. There were about twenty of them, jumping around, climbing ropes, swinging around and eating. At ten minutes to 10am we left to go back to the feeding platform. Now that we know what their nests look like, we kept an eye out for nests and saw many more in this jungle. We also spotted a pair of orangutans high up in the
04 Orangutan!04 Orangutan!04 Orangutan!

The first orangutan we spotted.
trees and watched them as they swung about above us.

At the feeding platform we choose a good spot to stand in the hope of seeing many feeding orangutans. Then they appeared – there was a young one and an older one, on different sides of the platform. As they waited for the food they swung on the ropes. Then the man arrived with a basket of food on his back. When he arrived they came closer to the platform. The younger one stood on the platform as he emptied his basket. They were bananas and some green vegetable for them to eat.

Using a rope for support, the younger orangutan stood up and picked through the food as it choose what to eat. It then picked up a bunch of bananas and ate them. A few minutes later the older one slowly swung by and the younger one moved off the platform. This one went straight to the green vegetables and happily ate them on the platform. The younger one was now swinging/hanging to one side of the platform.

A few minutes later another orangutan appeared and sat down as it ate bananas. Out of the corner of my eye I
05 Climbing Up05 Climbing Up05 Climbing Up

The orangutan climbing up onto the guard rail.
noticed movement. It was a black squirrel running along the rope. Soon after we left the orangutans and went for a walk back to the nursery hoping to see other orangutans on the way there and back. Unfortunately we didn't see any more, except for the ones in the nursery. This time there weren't as many orangutans in the nursery, but heaps more people. It was nice in here, as the air conditioner was on. The young orangutans were sitting around, swinging and playing on tyres. The platforms had lots of food on them, but none of the orangutans were eating at the moment.

We were getting bored so we didn't stay long. About ten minutes later we came to the end of the walkway and were out of the orangutan centre. I was glad that we came here and had a pretty much guaranteed chance of seeing orangutans. Although I was expecting to see many more of them at feeding time.

We collected our bags from the locker and walked across the road to the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre. The weather was now changing, clouds appeared and there was a little bit of rain. I really hope that
06 Excited06 Excited06 Excited

I was very excited to be so close to this special wild creature.
the torrential rain would hold off for a least half an hour. I had never heard of sun bears before I started to research for this trip. Through my research and today's visit I have learnt that they are a protected species and are threatened by being caught to keep as pets, hunting and deforestation. They are the smallest bear species and their name translates to honey bear – due to their fondness for eating honey.

We walked along the board walk and soon came to a viewing platform. There were two enclosures and at the moment there was construction/upgrading going on. From the viewing platform we could see the sun bears below us. It was very organised here, as on the platforms there were a couple of staff who would point out the location of the sun bears and thoroughly answer the visitor's questions. There were also telescopes for us to use.

The sun bears were walking around on the forest floor, not interacting with each other. Everyone was quiet as we observed the sun bears. The guide then pointed out to us the sun bear that was using its very sharp claws to climb a tree. It seemed
07 About to Jump07 About to Jump07 About to Jump

The orangutan is about to jump into a tree.
to be balancing on a very thin branch. I really enjoyed seeing the sun bears and I hope their existence is soon not as threatened. We left the centre and went to the little cafe for a little snack. After our snack it was time to find our taxi. We found him and asked him to take us to the Sandakan Memorial Park.

Additional photos below
Photos: 63, Displayed: 27


08 In Action08 In Action
08 In Action

The orangutan caught in action jumping into a tree.
09 Hanging09 Hanging
09 Hanging

It is now hanging onto a branch.
10 Sniffing10 Sniffing
10 Sniffing

The orangutan is sniffing its hand.
11 Nest11 Nest
11 Nest

An orangutan's nest.
12 Walking12 Walking
12 Walking

Walking along the guard rail and using the branches to help it.
13 Hanging & Eating13 Hanging & Eating
13 Hanging & Eating

Eating fruit as it hangs in the trees.
14 On the Railing14 On the Railing
14 On the Railing

The orangutan is on the guard rail again.
15 Hanging15 Hanging
15 Hanging

Hanging in the trees.
16 Hanging16 Hanging
16 Hanging

Hanging in the trees.
17 Up High17 Up High
17 Up High

Another orangutan, high up in the trees.
18 Above Us18 Above Us
18 Above Us

One of the two orangutans high up above us.
19 Hanging On19 Hanging On
19 Hanging On

This orangutan is hanging on with all four limbs.
20 Approaching20 Approaching
20 Approaching

An orangutan approaching the feeding platform.
 21 Feeding Platform 21 Feeding Platform
21 Feeding Platform

The man with the food has arrived!

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