Orangutans, which translated means ‘person of the forest’, are arguably the most iconic and intelligent animals that inhabit the large Malaysian island of Borneo and the only great ape to inhabit South East Asia. They are very distinctive thanks to their flamed reddish brown hair, adorable eyes, long arms and short legs. They can live to over 30 years of age and spend most of their time in the trees of the islands lush vegetation.

Orangutans in the Borneo rain forest

Unfortunately mankind’s commercial needs and greed have resulted in a rapid destruction of their natural habitat and decline in numbers of this beautiful creature, mainly due to a combination of logging and forest clearance for mass production and export of Palm Oil as well as hunting and poaching younger orangutans for illegal pet trading. Even though the Malaysian government has made this an automatic prisonable offence, it is still rife on the island.

Luckily in 1964 Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in the Malaysian Sabah district of Borneo was founded, to rehabilitate orphaned orangutans many of which are rescued from the above mentioned illegal pet trade. The site is 43 square kilometres of protected land at the edge of Kabili Sepilok Forest Reserve and today around 70 to 80 orangutans roam freely and safely in this sanctuary.

The centre cares for these young orangutans and the new arrivals are given a complete health check before starting on the long road to rehabilitating them back into the wild of which this essential process, of which includes integrating with substitute mothers, takes up to seven years to complete the programme.

Here at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre you can visit these wonderful creatures up close and personal, witness feedings and learn about the rehabilitation process and the great work this organisation carries out on a daily basis – and of course the entrance fee you pay to the park as well as any optional donation you give goes to ensuring that the future of orangutans on Borneo remains positive.

The 5* Shangri La’s Rasa Ria Resort & Spa makes the perfect choice to visit Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre and also boasts its own orangutan nature reserve – albeit on a much smaller scale of course. As well as being a great wildlife base, this hotel also boasts an idyllic private beach, a world class golf course and state of the art spa facilities.

To make the most of this wonderful area, stay at the Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort in Kota Kinablu.  Right on the beach and with its own nature reserve it is the perfect place to base yourself.