Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre
For the team, today was an exciting opportunity to see one of the worlds most endangered primate species, the Orangutan. Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre is the worlds premier centre to nurse this amazing primates back to health or teach an orphaned baby to develop into a mature adult, which surprisingly takes years of dedication from both parties.
We were rewarded our first sighting of an orangutan literally minutes into our visit as a renegade young male named Rony clambered around the roof of the reception building. As we entered the park it became apparent that the orang-utans were not alone in their rainforest sanctuary, in fact they share it with the very energetic and at times bad tempered long tailed Macaque. For me to see the sheer number of primates existing in a relatively small area it really hit home the huge affect and damage that a seemingly inconsequential amount of logging and deforestation can have on the local wildlife and habitats.
We timed our visit with feeding time at the centre and although there is plenty of food for them to forage for in the jungle they seem to enjoy the attention of the platform. However, the attention they don’t appreciate is that of the Macaque who at every opportunity attempt to steal a meal. Although the feeding platform was a great sight, for me and a couple of the team it lacked the authenticity of the wild environment in which we longed to see the creature exist and so we left to explore the remainder of the park. It didn’t take anymore than 5 minutes before we see Rony again in the canopy playing and eating the fruits of the forest which satisfied my lust for natural behaviour.
Prior to leaving for Borneo the expedition helped raise money to adopt an Orangutan named Bella, it was an unbelievable surprise to meet the young female as she was being coached. Unfazed by unfamiliar eyes she hung around eating sugar cane and attempting to make life difficult for her carer by making a beeline for the vegetation at every opportunity. What an amazing creature she is and we all felt truly privileged to get so close to her, a luxury rarely afforded to non staff. Needless to say we will all remember this experience fondly and keep a close eye on the progress of our new ginger lady.
After being introduced to Bella, the newest member of the Royal Regiment of Artillery, we were greeted by Lynette Silver who is the author of the book about the Death Marches ‘Conspiracy of Silence’. After some friendly banter between us and our Aussie speaker, Lynette went on to explain in more detail about about the Death Marches and the atrocities, hardship and cruelty that the prisoners endured under the Japanese.
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