(Day 219 to 222)
28.06.2010 - 01.07.2010 36 °C
The large island of Borneo is separated into 3 countries: Malaysia (Sarawak and Sabah), Indonesia (Kalimantan) and Brunei Darussalam.
We chose to visit Malaysian Borneo, specifically a region called Sabah, for 3 main things, all centred around wildlife, and the regular blog readers will have realised by now that I’m (Martin) a big nature-lover.
The 3 reasons we’re here are to see the Orang Utans (in the wild and in a sanctuary), Turtle Island (to see them lay their eggs and see the babies make their way to the open water), and finally to dive and snorkel the islands around Semporna and the world famous, and in the top 3 dive sites in the world, SIPADAN! This blog is about the magnificent Orag Utans.
Swing low, Sweet Orang-Utan
The word "Orang Utan" comes from the Malay words "orang" and "hutan" which means "man of the forest".
They’re only found in the rain forest of Sumatra (Indonesia) and Borneo and both species are endangered. The Orang Utan is one of our closest relatives in the animal kingdom, sharing 96.4% of our DNA. They’re astonishingly gentle, highly intelligent and they gaze at you with almost disconcerting frankness with their deep brown eyes.
A day after arriving in Sandakan, which would be our base for the first 2 activities (it is a very basic town with not much to see), we head out for Sipilok. We spent the morning at the Orang Utan centre watching the feeding of the young ones, which is part of their rehabilitation program. After the feeding we headed back to the entrance and came across a very gentle mother with her young baby clutched comfortingly in her arms on the side of the path, with its little hands hanging onto every strand of hair it could grasp. The beauty of this animal with auburn hair, so gentle, so loving, was amazing and we spent 30min snapping pictures and watching in amazement. This was to be our first encounter with Orang-Utans. How could you NOT fall in love with these guys? Just look at their face
We had hoped to see them in the wild on our 2 day trip into the jungle along the Kinabantangan River. Sure enough, we did. We were lucky enough to see 4 wild ones eating fists full of berries in the trees, not bothered by us “cousins” watching from a boat on the river below.
We also came across the elusive and excellent tree jumpers, the big-nosed Proboscis monkey. Another endangered monkey that is only found in Borneo. Unfortunately we didn’t get any good pictures of these monkeys as they are so quick when moving in the tree but below is an image to give you an idea.