Sepilok & Sandakan City Tour (Full Day)
Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre is a place where people can go to see
orang-utans (Pongo pygmaeus) - the wild red apes of Borneo and Sumatra - in their
natural habitat, the tropical rainforest. It is important to understand, however,
that the purpose of the Centre is to train young orang-utans, which for one reason
or another have been held in captivity, so that they may learn to live unaided
in the forest. Viewed in a historical context, the story is more complicated and
Sepilok is an old Forest Reserve, about 43 square kilometres in area, which
before the introduction of heavy machinery was logged by hand for timber. In 1957,
logging was banned and the Reserve was desinated for research and conservation.
When Sabah became an independent state in Malaysia in 1963, a Game Branch was
created in the Forest Department for the conservation of wild animals. At that
time, it was believed that the orang-utan was a very rare species, endangered
with extinction. Up to that time, young orang-utan had been a popular pet amongst
people in Sabah and elsewhere, and any young one caught during logging or forest
clearance was in wide demand. With the new Game Branch came a new law which prohibited
anyone from catching or keeping an orang-utan.
orang-utans which had been kept in captivity were confiscated - but something
had to be done with them. Sepilok was chosen as the place where these orang-utans
would be brought and trained to live a natural life in the forest. The rehabilitation
process, as it became known, met and continues to meet varying degrees of success.
Some orang-utans disappeared, some died, some grew to live a semi-natural existence...
and some were successfully rehabilitated to survive unaided in the forest. Indeed,
some have mated with wild orang-utans and produced babies. One such baby - Juliana,
born in 1976 - herself gave birth in Sepilok in 1987.
Since the early days, it has become apparent that while orang-utans are rare,
they are not endangered at present. It is now known that conservation of large
areas of natural habitat is a surer way to conserve orang-utans than the rehabilitation
programme at Sepilok. But orang-utans continue to come into Sepilok, nowadays
not from captivity, but directly from areas where forest is being cleared for
agriculture. Sepilok serves to give these unfortunate animals life in the forest
rather than an uncertain future in a plantation. And, perhaps most importantly,
Sepilok serves as a link between people and Sabah's marvellous wildlife, where
the young can gain their first insights into nature and the importance of caring
for the natural environment.
even rarer creature of the Borneo rainforests than the orang-utan can be seen
at Sepilok - the Asian two-horned rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis), often
known as the Sumatran rhino. This splendid animal was once widespread throughout
South-east Asia. Indeed, during the first three decades of the development of
Sandakan by the British Chartered Company, rhinos would often wander into the
town and outlaying gardens. Early issues of the British North Borneo Herald mention
visitors going off into the forests of the Sandakan hinterland to hunt rhinos,
and there are advertisements giving the cost of rhino horn in local Chinese shops.
Since those days, the Asian two-horned rhino has been reduced by excessive hunting
as well as loss of forest to scattered remnants in Borneo, Sumatra and Peninsular
Malaysia. A number of National Parks and Reserves have been established in all
three regions in efforts to conserve the rhinoceros in the wild. Unfortunately,
the horn of this rhino is worth more than its weight in gold in Chinese apothecaries,
for it is believed by Asians of Chinese descent to be the most effective medicine
to reduce fevers.
over continued illegal hunting, as well as the risk of natural calamities or disease,
have led the relevant governments to join forces with conservationists and zoos.
The aim is to build up a captive population, as a precaution against the possibility
that the wild populations may go extinct. For the time being, the Sabah government's
contribution to this effort is being developed at Sepilok. Finally, Sepilok is
an excellent opportunity to take a walk in the Borneo rainforest without the need
to organise a major expedition. Look out for the diversity of trees, climbing
plants, ferns and other plants, as well as birds and insects. Do not be disappointed
when hordes of colourful wild birds and mammals fail to make a showing. The beauty
of rainforest lies in its plants, in its sheer intricacy and complexity, and in
its shapes, sounds and subtle relationships.
- 0740hrs - Meet upon arrival at Sandakan Airport or at Hotel lobby, proceed
to the world famous Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre, journey will take
approximately 30 minutes. On arrival, register at the reception counter and proceed
to the Platform A to observe the daily 1000 hrs feeding of the Orang Utan. After
witnessing the feeding, proceed to the reception centre for a 30 min video show
on the centre. Depart Sepilok Orang Utan Centre for lunch in Sandakan Town.
- 1400hrs - Proceed for the Sandakan City tour with the first stop at the Rotary
Observation Pavillion for a bird's eye view of Sandakan Town, visit the Buli Sim
Sim Water Village, a stop at the St. Michael All Angels Church and lastly visit
the Puh Jih Syh Chinese Buddhist Temple which offers a Panoramic vista of the
- Transfer to Airport for flight to Kota Kinabalu or to hotel. End of Tour.
Things You Should Know / Bring / Wear
Suitable walking shoes / long sleeves shirts / change of clothes / water canteen/plasters
/ insect repellent / mosquito oil / binoculars / camera / water proof bag for
camera / torchlight / raincoat and personal items.