Friday, November 1, 2019

Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre and Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre
The orang utan rehabilitation center is commonly referred as Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary or Sepilok Orang Utan Centre / Park. Established in 1964, the place is well known internationally, as one of the earliest orang utan rehab center in the world.

The sanctuary started as a place to train injured or orphaned orang utan to return to the wild. Now, it plays a more important role as a  place to protect orang utan. As the apes are roaming freely in the park, feeding time is the best opportunity for us to see them. Please visit the official website for the feeding time. 

We visited the center during local fruit season (September - October). Most of the orang utan left the center to nearby fruit plantations for better fruit supply. We managed to see two orang utans in the wild. However, there were many young and baby orang utans in the nursery area. It is a good place to see how much the local authority cares about the conservation of orang utans. For us, the center is a must-visit site in Sandakan.

Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary opens daily from 9 am to 12 pm, 2 pm to 4 pm. The lunch break  is from 11 am to 2 pm on Fridays. The entrance fee info is available at its official website. Malaysians have to bring their Mykad for discount. We found that it was convenient to go to the center by Grab. The fee was around RM 23, and it took us around 35 minutes. 

It is important to visit the center with comfortable and non-slippery footwear. The wooden pathway would be extremely slippery after rain. No food and water is allowed in the forest area. Vending machines are available at the nursery. Again, we can only take the food inside the building. We roamed inside the center for about 1 hour 30 minutes.

Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre is located 25 kms from Sandakan town center. 

We need to buy our tickets and keep all the belongings in the locker (upper left). The staff warned that it would be almost impossible to get back the item grabbed by orangutan, in one piece. From the entrance (upper right), we need to walk on the wooden pathway (lower right) for 2.5 kms to the places dedicated for feeding and nursing the apes. The weather was cooling, the environment was clean and green. It was a pleasant experience walking in the center.

Only one orang utan showed up during the feeding time (upper left). It showed the back to us all the time. The fruits attracted primates to the feeding platform (upper right). We visited the nursery in the center. We saw young (lower right) and baby orang utans there. These orang utans will stay with the trainers until they are able to live independently in the wild.

 Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre
The sun bear conservation center is managed by a private organization. Starting in 2008, the conservation center plays the role to rescue sun bears, mostly from human captives (as pets or for sale), and trains them to be able to live independently in the wild. The center also promotes the awareness to protect this endangered species internationally.

There are many sun bears kept by the conservation center. We managed to see several of them roaming in the center. However, we could only observe them from the observation decks high above the ground. The information center highlighted the efforts of the center through videos. Please watch a few to appreciate the work done by the center. There is shop selling souvenirs and snacks in the center. We can buy something from the shop to support the conservation work. We would suggest to visit this sun bear conservation center together with the orang utan sanctuary.

The center is located next to the orang utan sanctuary. It took us 5 minutes to walk there. The entrance fees is available at BSBCC official website. Malaysians have to show their Mykad for lower rate. Sun bear center opens daily 9 am - 3:30 pm.

We would advise not to leave our stuff at orang utan center, as we might forget to bring those stuff on our way back to town. We stayed in the center for more than 1 hour.


The signboard to the sun bear center can be seen clearly from the orang utan sanctuary.

The entrance to the information center is well-hidden behind the green shrubs (upper left). The logo in front of the information center (upper right). The artworks produced via awareness campaigns were displayed (lower right). We need to watch the videos at the information center to appreciate the massive conservation work behind the scene.

Canopy walk is more than 10 meters above the ground with observation decks for sun bear watch (upper left). The enclosure for sun bears are huge. The heavy foliage prevented us to spot the sun bears (upper right). Lucky, there were a few sun bears showed up at open area.

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