Honestly, I was a bit skeptical about being able to visit the orangutans in Borneo since it was the fruiting season and it would be more difficult to be able to see one. Orangutans don’t need to go to the feeding stations in the wildlife center during this time because the forest is full of fruits for them to eat. I decided to visit the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre in Kuching, Borneo; despite the odds of not seeing one. This is one of the few places in the world where you can see these magnificent apes in the wild. If you are looking for best things to do in Borneo, Malaysia then this is one of your top choices!
I was able to find a taxi which would take me there on a round trip price of 100 ringgit ($22 USD). Once you make it to the wildlife center, you will have to pay a 10 ringgit fee ($2.25) to enter the park. Remember that there is no guarantee of being able to see the orangutans since it is a wildlife center the orangutans are allowed to roam as they would in the wild.
As soon as I stepped into the wildlife center, I saw a mother and child orangutan run to the trees. They were fed coconuts and it was a spectacle to see the mother actually break the coconut and drink the juice.
Orangutans have incredibly long arms, which make them more adept at breaking coconuts, and other fruits that they eat. It’s a completely different experience seeing an orangutan climb gracefully along the trees. I would highly recommend to see it if you get a chance.
At that point, I thought that I wouldn’t see any more orangutans but the park ranger gave us instructions to visit the main feeding station. He also instructed us not to bring any food or water bottles since the orangutans could take them from people, which could mean danger. The ranger also informed us of the Alpha male named, Ritchie. No one should provoke him since he could become aggressive. “Wow” I thought. “To see an alpha male orangutan would be something special.”
During the feeding station a mother and her young child approached the trees after repeated calls from the ranger. The rangers can make a special call to the orangutan that lets it know there is food available to them. I watched the mother and young child eat the different fruits for quite some time admiring their movements and ability to use their arms, hands, and feet to eat.
I was waiting to see if I would get an opportunity to see the alpha male, Ritchie and was about to leave since it was approaching 4PM and the wildlife center would close. Out of nowhere, the branches started tumbling down. At this point, the ranger was no longer there. It looked like this massive orangutan which I couldn’t see was heading straight for us. I knew this must be the alpha male since the mother and child went straight back up into the branches. After a few more minutes, he appeared and his shear size showed he was the king of this jungle. Ritchie, was extremely large and hairy. At 34 years of age, I’m sure he has been the dominant male for quite some time. Now, the mother and child were high in the branches avoiding any kind of contact with Ritchie. He sat there and ate in relative peace and silence.
This was icing on the cake in a day where I thought I wouldn’t even get to see one orangutan. I actually got to see 5 and the dominant male which made it even that more special. I'm so happy I got to visit the orangutans in Borneo and I highly recommend visiting Semengoh for the best things to do in Borneo!
Information about the park:
Name: Semengoh Wildlife Center
Address: 93250 Siburan, Sarawak, Malaysia
Contact Number: +6082 618325
Feeding Times: 9-10AM and 3-330PM (one hour each)