Borneo, Malaysia – The Last Orangutans

Malaysia is a diverse country that tends to surprise travelers. With two separate islands there is more to this Asian country than meets the eye. Peninsular Malaysia boasts bustling cities, delicious food, and island getaways, with a faster pace of life. Borneo, the third largest island in the world, is a place all in it’s own. This island is comprised of Malaysia and Brunei in the north, and Indonesia in the south (referred to as Kalimantan). When referring to Borneo, it’s a safe assumption to think of the Malaysian part. With such a species-rich area, Borneo is Asia’s version of the Amazon Rainforest. From one of the world’s oldest rainforests to one of the richest marine habitats, Borneo has become synonymous with adventure travel.

The world-famous Sepilok Orang-Utan Rehabilitation Centre in the northern province of Sabah welcomes orphaned and injured orangutans for rehabilitation before returning them to their natural forest life. Established in 1964, this organization has been working for over fifty years to combat the issues facing wild orangutans. Wild Bornean orangutan populations have declined by more than fifty percent over the past sixty years. This incredible animal is at risk of extinction from loss of habitat through deforestation, palm oil plantations, illegal hunting, and the illegal pet trade. Borneo is one of the last homes to the wild orangutans. Sumatra also has an orangutan population, but sadly that population is also in a state of peril. With limited space on the island, these animals are being forced out of their homes at an alarming rate.

Photo Credit: Erin Burt
Photo Credit: Erin Burt

Luckily, the Sepilok Orang-Utan Rehabilitation Centre serves as an educational tool for both locals and visitors to Borneo. The charity Orangutan Appeal UK is the first NGO to be approved by the Malaysian government, and works directly with the rehabilitation center in raising funds to protect the endangered orangutans. An entrance fee of 30RM ($8 USD) is charged to enter the park that helps fund the center and the Sabah Wildlife Department. This ticket is valid all day, from 9:00am to 4:00pm. There are two feeding times that prove to be the best time to see the orangutans up close. It is recommended to arrive at 8:45am and 1:45pm. This will allow you time to purchase your ticket and watch the highly recommended informational video before the feedings begin. The videos will start promptly at 9:00am and 2:00pm, with the feedings following at 10:00am and 3:00pm. There are also plenty of trails to explore the surrounding area as well as the nursery where you can watch young orangutans play and eat.

Featured Photo Credit: U.S. Embassy, Jakarta

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