Sepilok

A wonderful spot for nature lovers, particularly those interesting in monkeys, orangutans and bears, Sepilok is home to a number of sanctuaries protecting these animals from the seemingly endless deforestation of Borneo to establish palm oil plantations.

On the way from Kinabatangan River to Sepilok I visited the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary, which as the name suggests is home to the unusual proboscis monkey. Feeding time was the best time to see them venture out of the small protected patch of jungle to feast on cucumbers and no sugar pancakes. They were incredibly close, occasionally venturing onto the viewing platforms.

But not as close as the grey leaf monkeys that share the jungle with them, which were endless entertaining to watch from as close as a metre away. Families were grooming each other and a young monkey was playing with a fire extinguisher.

I stayed at the Sepilok Jungle Resort, a rather pleasant place based around two small lakes in the jungle, connected by walkways.

The best known and most popular place in the area is the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, which since 1964 has protected and released around 760 orangutans into the wild. It is on the edge of 43sqm of protected rainforest surrounded by palm oil plantations, habitations and water. Feeding time as usual is the best time to see animals venture out of the jungle close (too close at one point when one came along the walkway) to the viewing platforms. At the morning feeding was a female orangutan and child feeding, followed by a male who kept his distance from the protective mother.

A return visit in the afternoon was far more entertaining and less crowded, with the outdoor nursery for young orangutans in full use. They were swinging and rolling around, enjoying pineapple slices, and playing with each other, great fun to watch.

Over at the feeding station there was one orangutan with child warily waiting for an opportunity to get some food from a multitude of pig tailed macaques, who were busy fighting among themselves.

Next door is the separate but similar Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, home to the smallest bears in the world. Again feeding time was the best chance to see them below.

From the viewing platforms I also saw a pair of colourful rhinoceros hornbills, quite spectacular birds.

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