Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre

The Sabah Orangutan Rehabilitation Project was originally proposed in 1961 by P.F. Burgess, then the Deputy Conservator of Forests. He was also responsible for the establishment of a game branch within the Forest Department and the drafting of the Fauna Conservation Ordinance, 1963. Soon afterwards, Barbara Harrisson, wife of the Curator of Sarawak Museum, began to rescue young orangutans being kept locally as pets, and the idea grew of training these animals to fend for themselves so that they might re-adapt to life in the wild. In 1962, with the backing of the newly formed World Wildlife Fund, Harrisson visited Sabah (then North Borneo) and reported that orangutan were rare and threatened with extinction. In Sabah it is a totally protected animal under the Fauna Conservation Ordi­nance, 1963.

What is the Rehabilitation centre process?

Admission

The rehabilitation process starts right after an orangutan has been admitted to the centre. The majority of animals arriving at Sepilok have been taken from people keeping them (illegally) in captivity, often after having taken them away from their mothers, while still babies, to become household pets. Others include adults that have sustained injury or sickness and require medical treatment before being returned to the wild.

Quarantine

All animals are given a thorough general health examination shortly after arrival. This is followed by a quarantine period of 3-6 months to eliminate the possibility of them passing diseases to other orang­utans. Through all phases of the rehabili­tation process, the clinic offers assist­ance with any health problems that animals may encounter. The medical check-up comprises of tests for TB and Malaria, urine analysis, bacteriology and chestX-ray. After quarantine, the orang­utan will be assessed as to whether it should undergo the whole programme or deliberately start from the second or third stage.

Kinabatangan River

The Kinabatangan River (Sungai Kinabatangan) is located in Sabah, eastern Malaysia, on the island of Borneo. It is the second longest river in Malaysia, with a length of 560 kilometers from its headwaters in the mountains of southwest Sabah, to its outlet at the Sulu Sea, east of Sandakan.

Kinabatangan is known for its remarkable wildlife and fascinating habitats such as limestone caves at Gomantong hill, dryland dipterocarp forests, riverine forest, freshwater swamp forest, oxbow lakes and salty mangrove swamps near the coast.

The ecology of the upper reaches of the river has been severely disrupted by excessive logging and clearing of land for plantations. However, the original lowland forests and mangrove swamps near the coast have largely survived, and contain some of Borneo's highest concentrations of wildlife. Of special note are Borneo's indigenous proboscis monkeys and orangutans, Asian elephants and Sumatran rhinoceros. The area is also known for its great variety of birdlife.

Turtle Islands National Park

Turtle Islands National Park (Taman Negara Pulau Penyuh) is located some 40 kilometers north of Sandakan in Sabah, east Malaysia. It consists of 3 islands - Selingaan, Bakkungaan Kecil and Gulisaan (often spelt with -an instead of the traditional -aan), including the surrounding coral reefs and ocean. The Park is famous for its green turtles and hawksbill turtles which lay their eggs on the beaches of the islands. The Park covers an area of 17.4 km². The name Turtle Islands, however, refers to 10 islands, 3 of which are part of Turtle Islands National Park of Malaysia, and 7 which belongs to the Municipality of Turtle Islands, Tawi-Tawi, Philippines. On 1 August 1966, the first turtle hatchery in Malaysia was established on Selingan, funded entirely by the Sabah state government. Turtle hatcheries on the remaining two islands followed shortly after. In 1972, Selingan, Bakkungan Kecil and Gulisan were designated as a Game and Bird Sanctuary. In 1977, this status was upgraded to that of a Marine Park. Permanent park staff monitor the turtles, protect the hatcheries and tag the turtles for research purposes. Libaran Island is also designated within the park boundaries, however it is not a major turtle hatching spot.