Borneo. Part 1.

Real talk now. This is definitely going to another long one! Maybe fit in an interval to make it more do able

On the 3rd March Louise and I embarked on our long awaited tour of Sarawak, Borneo. So much happened in two weeks and all of it was truly special. We had the honour of
seeing and being involved in some amazing things.

Overview: Our trip was ran by the great projects and co-ordinated by the orang-utans project. We spent time in many different places, with many different people. Our guide Alvin accompanied us for most of the trip, he shared al, his knowledge every step of the way with us. The group was made of 11 people total: 4 Aussies, 6 Brits (including us) and 1 American.

Captive animals:
Matang Wildlife Centre: (We stayed here for 3 nights total) Matang is part of a national park but famed for the fact it’s an animal rescue centre. There is large amounts of controversy around the park as all the animals are kept in enclosures and cages. The centres most famous residents: sun bears and orangoutangs are at the top of everyone’s “to see list” but in these cramped cages, watching them pace, the reality of animals in captivity hits home. It’s hard to keep in mind that the animals home now is better then where they came from. Although this in itself is sad because their cramped, small, damaged cages are the better alternative.

Most of the animals at Matang were rescued from the illegal pet industry. Whether this is for the owners pleasure or to use as a status symbol. Sun bears, orang-utans, clouded leopards, hornbills, silver leaf monkeys, tortoises, owls and crocodiles are just a few of the animals that are looked after at Matang. All of these animals are so domesticated that they don’t know how to survive on the own. At Matang, their ideal situation is to one day, be able to close down. Hopefully as no more animals will arrive, unwanted by their owners. This is a long shot but it’s what they’re aiming for.

As a group we helped prepare enrichment for the sun bears and orang-utans. For the orang-utans some of us collected a heap of leaves while other created parcels of nuts wrapped in newspaper and knotted in fabric to make it more difficult to reach the nuts. The nut parcels and leaves were then all put into sacks (proper primary school sack race style) and the ends were then sewed up. For the bears, whole coconuts were bagged in similar sacks with nuts scattered between the layers and again the parcels were sewn up at every possible entry point to challenge the bears to reach the food. We then had the pleasure of watching as the excitement took over and the animals enjoyed their days treat.

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Semenggoh Wildlife Centre: ( just a morning visit) This is the world famous semi-wild orang-utan nature park. The park has about 30 orangoutangs total and they are not physically caged in, just restricted to a small area of jungle that has been enclosed by buildings and development.

Although the majority of these animals are rescued, there is also active breeding meaning they have some orang-utans that were born in captivity. There are a few issues with this. One being incest. The other being the fact that the orangoutangs that are born will never be able to survive properly in the wild as they will have learnt to survive in captivity.

When we visited, one of the newly born babies and their mother were at the feeding platform. In total we saw 5 orang-utans during that mornings feeding time. This was such a nice difference to seeing the orang-utangs in their enclosures at Matang. Seeing them swinging from tree to tree gave us a glimpse of how they might live in the wild. Although they were free to Rome their feeding was controlled so not quite the same as being wild… it also felt slightly sat to be part of such a crowd, watching as they ate.

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I told you it was a long one and that was just part one…Interval time! Go on. Get yourself an overpriced mini ice cream, have a wee and continue.

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