Sepilok Celebrates its 50th Birthday

Dailt Express

Sepilok Orangutan Rehab Centre to mark 50th anniversary
Published on: Thursday, October 02, 2014
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KOTA KINABALU: The world renowned Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in Sepilok, Sandakan, which is currently accommodating over 700 orang-utan of the Bornean Pongo pygmaeus morio species, will be celebrating its 50th anniversary on Oct 9-10. In conjunction with the celebration, the centre will be opened for free-of-charge to the public on the first day. Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman would also join in the celebration on that day (Oct 9) at 8am. He would also officiate at the opening of the Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC), located near the centre, and the Orangutan Outdoor Nursery. State Wildlife Director Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu, in welcoming people to the event, said the two openings are the highlights of the anniversary celebration which would also feature exhibition by the conservation partners, face painting activity and orang utan adoption programme. Apart from that, he said the first day's programme will also be filled with an orang utan and sun bear photography contests as well as other activities at the orang utan feeding platform and outdoor nursery as well as at the BSBCC.

On the second day of the celebration there will be a primary school story-telling contest, fashion design using recyclable materials contest, collage and colouring contest, as well as face painting, orang utan adoption programme, documentary screenings and Sun Bear education activities, among others. The Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, about 25 kilometres west of Sandakan, was opened in 1964, about a year after Malaysia was formed, as the first official orang utan rehabilitation project for rescued orphaned baby orang utans from logging sites, plantations, illegal hunting or kept as pets. At this centre the orphaned orang utans are trained to survive again in the wild and are released as soon as they are ready. The sanctuary is located within the protected Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve which covers an area of 4,294hectares (10,610acres).

Dr Ambu said since its opening and to date the centre has received 758 orang utans for rehabilitation of which about 81.6 per cent of them successfully rehabilitated. "About 66 per cent out of the 758 have successfully been released back into the protected forest reserve," he said, adding this is one of the successes of the centre which is already known globally for its works in rescuing and rehabilitating orang utans and in increasing global awareness on the importance of protecting orang utans from extinction.

He said the success of this centre can also be seen through the decreasing number of orang utans it receives for rehabilitation, with only one orang utan received from January to September this year. Presently there are not least than 10,000 orang utans in Sabah, he said, adding the centre record also showed it is visited by an average of about 80,000 tourists annually.

International-based non-governmental organisations would also be joining their local counterparts in the occasion, together with 150 students from the surrounding schools.

On the outdoor nursery, Dr Ambu said that is one of the latest approaches by the department where visitors would stay in-house to watch the orang utans outside which is to minimise stress among the orang utans.

The whole two days were a great success and Orangutan Appeal UK were very proud to be part of it.