Last September I had the privilege to go on my first assignment for National Geographic Traveler (NL). It turned out to be a super-short dash to the other side of the planet for a five-day mad dash to the Sabah Province in Malaysian Borneo. In three parts I will photoblog the trip, starting today with my visit to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre.
In over thirty years they have managed to bring back 600 animals into the wild, quite an accomplishment although it is hard to monitor the long-term results as these animals cannot be tagged. As impressive as this number is, not all animals are released. Even though human contact is minimized as much as possible, some of these amazing primates get so fond of their trainers that they will never leave the reserve and it’s forest. You have to realize that the animals are not caged, only at night, and they are free to go wherever they want. This is why at the feeding station, the popular tourist attraction, they only served the blandest of food available in order to stimulate the animals to go out and search for their own meals.
In any way it is a fantastic place to go for a visit (the feeding takes place twice a day) because you get to see the animals quite up-close and will encounter many of the other monkey species that are prone to this region. From here on most people either go back home (Sandakan, the main port for the region is close-by) or head straight for the rainforest, as I did. So come back for part II and see if I encountered some wild elephants.