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SATURDAY, APRIL 13, 2013

Most Memorable Trip in Borneo- Day One: Trip to Semenggoh Wild Life Centre, Kuching

  I was looking forward for the trip on the first day with Joey, my friendly tour guide and two tourists from Madrid, Spain called Danni and Ann.
 
 
 
  As I looked up the skies, I could see that the weather was good even though it was little bit cloudy. We started off our journey at 8 am from Singgah Sana Lodge in downtown Kuching. While waiting for Joey, we made preparations and checked to see whether we have everything in our backpack.
 
  When we were inside the van, Joe gave us a briefing regarding the rehabilitation centre since it was important for us to know about the rules and regulations when looking at the Orang-utans. He gave us this list of   DO’s and DON’T’s once we arrived.
 
The DON’T’s
 
1)      Do not bring food or drink during the trip as they are sensitive to smell
        2)      Do not use a stick or your fingers to point at the Orang-utans as they will consider it as a   challenge
        3)      Do not use flash while taking pictures as they will be shocked and would possibly attack you.
        4)      Do not attempt to touch the Orang-utan younglings as their mother is very protective.
        5)      Do not stare directly into their eyes as it will provoke them.
        6)      Do not stand too near the Orang-utans for safety reasons.
        7)      Do not bring a camera tripod. They will think that it is a weapon.
 
The DO’s
 
        1)      Do be careful when walking. Orang-utans might perch on the treetops doing their business.
        2)      Always look up as some young naughty Orang-utans tend to throw stones or tree branches
        3)      Do RUN if the shelter ranger told you to do so!
 
  It took us at least an hour’s journey from Singgah Sana Lodge to the rehabilitation centre took us. The journey time can be extended to a further 15-30 minutes if the traffic is busy. We arrived at our designated destination by 9 am. We walked down the trail and followed our guide. We had our first sight of the Orang-utans at our first pit stop.
 
  We were fortunate to see a mother Orang-utan and her child coming out from bushes. Although it was their feeding time, they do not seem to be eating at all. As we walked along the trail, we could see a signboard with all the Orang-utans’ name written on it. It somehow reminded me of the old Western style ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’ poster. 
 
 
 
  When I interviewed one of the rangers named Mr. Mustadza, he told us that the Orang-utans’ names were given after the staff who worked in the rehab centre. Some were named after famous people. One of the Orang-utans here is called Ritchie. The 35 year old Ritchie weighs around 150 to 160 kg. He got his name from James Ritchie, who was a famous photographer as well as a journalist. Somehow, Ritchie did not make his debut appearance on that day. However, we were happy enough to see a female orang-utan called Seduku and her child along the way. Seduku was initially nervous when she encounters a large number of tourists. She tends to carry her child behind her back as if she is trying to prevent humans to take her child away.
 
 
 
  Some of the rangers advised us to keep our distance at least 5-6 feet away from them. Her child was just 5 months old. One hour later, Seduku’s husband, called Anwar, came out. Anwar is lazier and is less protective over his child since he prefers the attention from the photographers. However, we still needed to be cautious and alert just in case anything goes wrong.
 
  According to the rangers, there have been cases where rangers were attacked by the Orang-utans last year. One of the trails where this incident happened was closed for safety reasons. They might look cute and fragile but they can be very aggressive. A ranger told us that the orang-utans are just like humans with their own mood swings. We even learnt some amazing facts about Orang-utans. Do you know that their DNA resembles human DNA by at least 90 to 95 percent? I guess that explains their mood swings. One of the wildlife centre rangers was attacked last year by a female Orang-utan called Hot Mama. This fiery Orang-utan is legendary for her short temper and aggressivenes.
 
 
 
 
  Mustadza explained that the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre was meant to be a rehabilitation centre for Orang-utans and other wildlife. The Semenggoh Wildlife was finally open to the public after receiving enthusiastic public interest and enquiries. Mustadza goes on to explain that the general public wanted to see the wildlife roaming around in a natural setting rather than being caged. I can’t help but agree with him on that point. Seeing these marvellous Orang-utans and other wildlife moving freely in this beautiful wildlife centre is indeed a breath taking and awe-inspiring moment!
 
 
 
  After spending an hour in the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre we followed our guide and headed off to the pepper farm where the famous Sarawak black pepper is produced. As we looked forward to this next part of our trip, we were glad that we had the chance to see the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre and its colourful inhabitants.
Tags: Kuching Semenggoh Wildlife Center | Borneo Kuching Semenggoh Wildlife Center | Orang Utan Semenggoh Wildlife Center | Sarawak Semenggoh Wildlife Center |

WEDNESDAY, MAY 23, 2012

Ritchie - The Semenggoh Orang Utan's Idol

Ritchie - The Orang Utan's idol

 

The most famous orang utan in Sarawak, Borneo will be Ritchie. Ritchie is the oldest living male orang utan in Semenggoh Orang Utan Rehabilitation here in Sarawak, Borneo. Born in 1981, Ritchie is now 31 years-old and weighs about 31 kilos.

Orang utans are a species of great ape found only in South East Asia on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra, although evidence of their existence has been found in Java, Vietnam and China. The gentle red ape demonstrates significant intelligence, with ability to reason and think and is one of our closest relatives, sharing 97% of the same DNA as humans.

Ritchie is the dominant alpha male of the pack, and he is like the king of the jungle here at the Semenggoh Orang Utan Rehabilitation. He rarely makes an appearance in front of tourists who come and visit the centre, so it is sometime really hard that we get to see him around.

He's very active among the orang utans in the centre, and said to have very strong arms where he swings from tree to tree.

Ritchie is said to be very smart where he was seen to open a coconut by himself, drinking the coconut juice first before opening up the coconut shell to eat the pulp. His favourite foods are fruits and coconuts.

Every time when Ritchie makes an appearance, the orang utans will keep their distance from him, as Ritchie is known to be aggressive against other orang utans. It was said that he once got into a fight with a fellow male orang utan named George in the centre. George was moved out from Semenggoh and was placed at Matang Wildlife Centre.

So if you guys are interested in seeing orang utans in their natural surroundings, Semenggoh Orang Utan Rehabilitation will be a good choice.

Semenggoh Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre is undoubtedly one of the best attractions in the Kuching area. It offers the opportunity of getting close to some highly mischievous, semi-wild Orang Utan. Semenggoh became the first forest reserve in Sarawak in 1920. It was turned into a wild life rehabilitation centre for monkeys, Orang Utans, honey bears and hornbills in 1975.

The aim is to reintroduce as many of the animals as possible to their natural habitat, as many had been orphaned by logging or were being illegally kept as pets. There is more to see in the morning as the young monkeys and Orang Utans are put back in their cages at 3pm. The best time to visit Semenggoh is during feeding time, which takes place between 8.30-9am and 3-3.30 pm.

Go to www.SarawakBorneoTour.com for more info or e-mail us at Ask@SarawakBorneoTour.com for any inquiries.

Tags: ritchie orang utan | borneo sarawak | best kuching hotels | Semenggoh Ritchie | Ritchie orang hutan | Kuching Semenggoh. |

TUESDAY, MARCH 27, 2012

Experience Bidayuh Culture at Kampung Benuk Homestay Programme

If you want to learn and experience the different cultures existing in Sarawak, the best way is to live or stay with the local people. There are 19 kampongs and longhouses of various ethnic groups in Sarawak, and Kampung Benuk is one of them. Be prepared to be fascinated and enchanted by their culture, festivals and traditions.

Kampung Benuk is located 34km from Kuching City and is the nearest homestay for visitors or tourists who wish to experience life in a native longhouses. The homestay is an ideal transit for those who are going to and from the Borneo Highlands (Annah Rais) and the city. The Bidayuh culture is sacredly preserved amid rapid development taking place in the village, and their daily activities are mainly traditional farming (planting paddy, rubber, pepper and vegetables). It has a population of 3000 with some living in traditional longhouses while the rest lives in a typical modern Bidayuh Village.

Kampung Benuk Homestay programme offers visitors with an excellent exotic culture, warmth and friendly hospitality along with nature at its finest. Benuk Homestay is one of the very few surviving Bidayuh Longhouse in Borneo, Sarawak. Benuk Homestay is one of the best opportunities to truly enjoy the experience of living among rich traditional lifestyle of a Bidayuh community.

Enjoy Bidayuh traditional dishes here in Kampung Benuk
Be ready to receive a warm welcome from us! :)
Among the attractions available at Kampung Benuk Homestay is a mini museum which houses various historic Bidayuh relics, Panggah (where skulls are kept), river crossing on bamboo bridge, the Skuh Gung mini cave, the Legendary Batuh Junk (Junk Stone) and not forgetting the Bidayuh traditional longhouse.
Bamboo bridge crossing at Kampung Benuk Homestay

Various activities are also offered here and among them are; jungle/ mountain tracking: paddy farm cultivation (traditional farm), rubber garden (rubber tapping demonstration), and pepper gardening (briefing on pepper). For nature lovers, Kampung Benuk homestay offers unique flora and fauna with the village surrounded by dense jungle plus the Semenggoh Nature Reserve (Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre) being only a few kilometers away from the village.

You can check out Kampung Benuk Homestay packages only at www.SarawakBorneoTour.com for the best deals, or you can send us your inquiries at Ask@SarawakBorneoTour.com.

Tags: Benuk | Kuching homestay | homestay in Kuching | kuching village homestay | Bidayuh homestay | Benuk Homestay | Sarawak | Kampung Benuk | Semenggoh | Kuching longhouse | Sarawak longhouse | sarawak culture | bidayuh culture | bidayuh traditions | Kuching City |

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY19, 2012

Semenggoh Orang Utans in Sarawak, our Distance Cousins

 

The orangutan or great ape and humans had held a close connection with each other since time immemorial.  We even shared 96.4% of our genetics make-up with the orangutans.  That was the reason why orangutans had held such strong fascination for us, at times to their detriment.  Young orangutans that were illegally kept as pets for a long time became “no-hopers” because it would be extremely difficult for them to live and survive in the wild on their own.

It was at sanctuaries such as the Semenggoh Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in Kuching, Sarawak, that rescued and orphaned orangutans could find a safe haven and be rehabilitated to live in the wild once more.  Established in 1975, Semenggoh Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre is one of the must-see attractions in KuchingSemenggoh Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre is located 20 kilometres away from Kuching City and situated within the lovely 740 hectares Semenggoh Nature Reserve, reaching the Centre just took a 30-minutes drive.

My friends and I arrived at the Semenggoh Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in time for the afternoon feeding time between 3.00pm-3.30pm.  The morning feeding time was from 8.30am-9.00am.  These were the best times to visit the Centre as the semi-wild orangutans would come out of the forest reserve and descent from the trees to the feeding platform to get their food from the Rangers.  Visitors could watch the great apes in action from a safe distance, of course.

Before we headed off to the feeding area at the Semenggoh Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, a briefing was given by the Rangers on what to do and not do when the orangutans appear.  The main idea was to keep still and stay quiet.  A 10-minute walk into the forest trail brought us to the feeding platform area.  The Rangers began placing bananas, bottles of milk, boiled beans and sunflower seeds on the platform, before calling out the names of the orangutans.  In a few minutes, soft rustlings in trees could be heard and we waited in anticipation and a quickening of our heartbeats.

We were delighted when a female orangutan cradling a baby on its side came into sight.  Due of their size, the orangutans do not swing from tree to tree but move with a steady but slow and graceful pace.  The female orangutan ignored us and went straight to the feeding platform and began to peel a banana to eat.  Not long after, a few more orangutans arrived and soon the food was slowly, but surely, consumed.  The Rangers at the Semenggoh Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre informed us that the fully rehabilitated orangutans would not return to the feeding platform until there was scarcity of fruits in the forest.  There were also several orangutans, especially kept as pets from young, that would not go back to the forest as they had become too used to human interactions.

the younger orangutans would linger around the area after their meals, playing with each other.  Sometimes, one or two more mischievous or curious orangutans would climb down to the ground and teasingly charge at visitors but their antics were usually harmless.  However, it is advisable not to go too close to, play with or touch the orangutans as they are semi-wild and have powerful arms, and if they should grab your camera or bag, you can basically say goodbye to your belongings.  Once they were full and finished with their playing, which lasted around an hour or so, the orangutans would head back into the forest.

The Semenggoh Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre also housed other species of endangered wildlife from hornbills to sun bears and gibbons besides orang utans.  Facilities at the Semenggoh Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre included a Visitor Information Centre, bird-breeding enclosure, small mammals breeding site, a large orangutan enclosure, two large bird enclosures, ten large mammal enclosures, and quarantine areas, which were closed to the public.   For us, it had been an interesting and eye-opening trip to the Semenggoh Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre.  We learnt about the wildlife in the Centre, particularly the orangutans and were very happy to be able to see and watch the orangutans live in action.  Check it out for yourselves!

Tags: orangutan | orang utans | orang utan Sarawak | orang utan Kuching | wildlife Kuching | Kuching forest | Semenggoh |