Semenggoh Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre is undoubtedly one of the best attractions in the Kuching area. It's highly accessible, only half an hour from Kuching by public bus, and offers the opportunity of getting close to some highly mischievous, semi-wild orang-utan.
An orang utan replica welcoming all guests at the entrance.
The centre was established in 1975 in order to care for wild animals which have either been found injured in the forest, orphaned, or previously kept as illegal pets. Although the centre houses many species of endangered wildlife, the orang-utans are the star attractions.
The centre's orang-utan population can be divided into two groups. The first group are the recent arrivals and the 'no-hopers'. The recent arrivals are usually young orphans whilst the 'no-hopers' are those orang-utans that have been previously kept as pets for so long that there is simply no chance that they will ever be able to fend for themselves in the wild. Recent arrivals are first given a medical check-up and then placed in cages. After a short period in quarantine their training begins. The young orang-utan are taught how to survive in their natural jungle habitat. Every day the wardens take them out into the forest and encourage them to climb trees, swing on branches and forage for food. After two to four years they are usually able to fend for themselves and are therefore released into the surrounding forest.
They have a huge board displaying all the namelist of orang utan born & living in the centre. Every orang utan has own name. Funny thing is they looked like the same to me. But the staff there can easily identify their name even from far. Impressive!
The second group consists of the semi-wild orang-utans that roam the 740 hectare forest reserve. These animals are half way through the rehabilitation process and mostly fend for themselves, foraging for food and living in the forest. However, they are partial to a free feed every now and then, and frequently return to the centre to grab a quick meal of banana, papaya, fresh milk or whatever the wardens happen to have.
The best time to visit Semenggoh is during feeding time, which takes place between 8.30-9.00 am and 3.00-3.30 pm. The semi-wild orang-utans are good time keepers and as feeding time approaches they start to make an appearance. They descend from the trees of the surrounding forest reserve to offer visitors a unique wildlife experience and some excellent photo opportunities.
They often make their way to the lower branches and small trees which surround the various orang-utan enclosures, the very same cages where they used to stay before graduating to the forest. Here, they play with each other, swing about in the hanging vines and occasionally descend to ground level to 'charge' groups of tourists.
When the wardens arrive with buckets of food and bottles of milk the orang-utans stop playing around and head to the feeding platform. The wardens calls out to the Orang Utans by their names and in a few minutes you can see a rustling in the treetops which signal the arrival of these great beings!
At the feeding platform the warden tries to maintain some kind of order as the orang-utans move in, grab handfuls of food and scamper off to climb the nearest tree. Some of the orang-utan stay on the platform or sit on the ground until they're stuffed full.
Feeding times offer the chance of viewing the orang-utan at close range for a reasonably long period of time. The orang-utan usually spend an hour or so having their free meal and messing around with each other, the wardens and any tourist who happens to be standing in the way when they come wandering by. When the food has run out and the animals tire of the fun and games they gradually move off into the forest leaving visitors with an unforgettable wildlife experience.
An acrobatic show from the cute baby. Can you do the same?
General Feeding Times for Orang Utan
Morning: 9.00 am to 10.00am
Afternoon: 3.00 pm to 3.30 pm
Monday to Sunday (and public holidays):
0800 - 1230
1400 - 1600
0800 - 1130
1400 - 1600
Visitors are reminded to leave compound of the Forestry Department Botanical Research Centre by 1615 hrs as the main gate closes shortly after 1630 hrs (Monday to Sunday).
How to get there??
If you are taking a bus from Kuching, you should board the Sarawak Transport Company (Tel: 242967) bus No. 6, 6A, 6B, 6C Penrissen and alight at the Forestry Department Botanical Research Centre, Semenggoh. From the Botanical Research Centre, follow a small trunk road leading to the Rehabilitation Centre through the forest.
Penrissen buses depart Kuching from the bus station at 0820, 1030, 1100 and 1330 hrs. The last bus back to Kuching leaves Semenggoh at 1700 hrs.
The bus takes approximately 30 minutes to reach Semenggoh. Another 30 minutes is needed to walk into the Centre.
- Taxi service
Visitors can also hire taxis from Kuching.