There, rangers are waiting with baskets of tropical fruit, usually bananas. A little distance away, on a wider wooden platform, tourists are busy snapping pictures.
This is the daily routine at 10am and 3pm at the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre, 23km away from Sandakan on Sabah's east coast.
A shy creature, the "man of the jungle" does not hang around for long and in half an hour, they would have returned to the 4,294 hectare Sepilok-Kabili forest reserve.
With funding from the Sabah Government, the centre was set up in 1964 with the aim of rehabilitating orphaned, injured or displaced orang utan and returning them to the wild.
The programme has been highly successful and many orang utan have been rehabilitated over the years. Recently, a number have been translocated to the Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Lahad Datu, south of Sandakan.
|Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre.
Protecting The Young
The centre has indoor and outdoor nurseries and a wildlife clinic to treat orang utan and other injured animals. These facilities are, however, off limits to the public.
The rehabilitation process begins with a full health examination by the veterinarian, followed by a quarantine period to make sure that diseases the primate may carry are not spread to other individuals.
Young orang utan spend hours in outdoor nurseries, swinging from rope to rope and picking up skills such as the ability to find food, build nests and climbing, skills that they would otherwise learn from their mothers.
Scientists estimate that there are 11,000 orang utan in the wild in Sabah and that some 60 per cent live outside of protected areas.
For visitors seeking adventure, trekking is allowed on nature trails within the reserve. Trails vary from 250 metres to five kilometres and allow tourists the opportunity to experience the rainforest and mangrove swamps. It is possible to spot wild orang utan along these trails.
|Rangers feeding orang utan.
When and How Much
Visitors who want to learn more about orang utan the easy way only need to step into an air-conditioned exhibition room or view video shows at 8.30am, 11am, 12 noon, 2.10pm and 3.30pm. The facility is run by the Sabah Wildlife Department.
Entrance fees: Malaysian adults (RM5), children (RM2). Non-Malaysian adults (RM30), children (RM15). Camera and video camera fee: RM10
How To Get There
Fly from Kuala Lumpur or Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan and buy a taxi coupon to the Sepilok centre. The ride takes about 20 minutes. It is also accessible by public bus from the bus terminal in front of Nak Hotel in Sandakan. Accommodation is available at several lodges near the centre for those who want to spend the night. For further details, email email@example.com