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KUCHING > SEMENGGOH WILDLIFE CENTRE
 

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Semenggoh Orang Utan Sanctuary
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Semenggoh Nature Reserve
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LOCATION:
Just outside the municipality of Padungan, some 25 kilometres from Kuching. The best way to get here and return back to Kuching is by private-hire local cabs. But if you wish to ask the taxi driver to wait at the entrance while you are watching the orang utans, the waiting time will be an added cost.

I used the Kuching local bus to get here. The best place to look for the Sarawak Transport Company (STC) bus #6 is on the main bus stop along Jalan Barrack. Here you can find most of the STC buses waiting for passengers before proceeding with their scheduled journey. The exact schedule is undetermined, so please ask the STC staff at the nearby bus counter. I suspect bus #6 runs less frequently on weekends. As you board the correct STC bus #6, tell the bus driver to stop you at Semenggoh.

As for the return trip, I flagged down a local mini van (some sort of the bemo service synonymous with Kota Kinabalu, Tawau, and even Indonesia) by the roadside, often seen heading to the city centre. If the van is not full, the driver will stop for you. The journey takes about 30 minutes (much faster than the bus) and cost only RM3 per trip.

As you arrive at the main entrance at Semenggoh Nature Reserve, you will need to walk for about 20 minutes before you get to Semenggoh Wildlife Centre.

DESCRIPTION:
This amazing wildlife rehabilitation centre was established back in 1975 with the main purpose is to rehabilitate injured or orphaned wild animals taken out from the jungles all over Sarawak. Eventually, these animals will be released back to the wild. Just like what you can witness in Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary in Sabah, this wildlife centre is not a city zoo showcasing exotic animals in captivity.

An important note is that the official feeding times are 0900hrs–1000hrs and 1500hrs–1530hrs daily. I, on behalf of the wildlife centre, would like to put a disclaimer here that the sighting of the many orang utans is not at all guaranteed even during the feeding times. One may leave the wildlife centre fuming for not being able to see even a single orang utan even after waiting for a few hours. The fact is, while the recuperating orang utans prefer to come down to the wildlife centre for the free food, they can also find  wild figs, durians, young leaves, insects, flowers, eggs and lizards in the surrounding expansive forests. In fact, the occasional disappearance of these orang utans is certainly a good indication that these adorable primates are slowly adjusting to the real wilderness and are able to forage for food on their own.

If you are still unsatisfied for not being able to see any of them, may I suggest going to either the Singapore Zoo or the Orang Utan Island in Bukit Merah Laketown Resort. Sighting of orang utan is guaranteed there.

Being unaware of the official feeding time (not to mention the long journey by public bus), I only arrived at the wildlife centre at 1100hrs. To my pleasant surprise, there were two orang utans had just came out from the forest for their belated morning feast. It was a delightful experience mainly because I was told that during the official feeding time of between 0900hrs–1000hrs, no orang utans showed up for their meals. While watching these playful and adorable primates indulging in the delicious spread of bananas, coconuts, sugar canes, sweet potatoes and milk, I got the chance to learn about their names. The larger female orang utan is called Seduku (not sure where that comes from) and her adorable baby called Saddam (sounds familiar?).

I managed to see these orang utans in action for about 15 minutes - gulping down the meals, performing neat tricks on the tree ropes and playing with each other. Slowly, they climbed further up the tall trees with even more tricky acts that would leave you enthralled for quite some whiles, before eventually losing the sight of them as they get into the deep forest where they actually belong.

Other than that, the wildlife centre features fascinating tropical trees, temporary animal shelters (they do keep other animals here, but there were none during my visit), a number of jungle trails (supposedly to catch further glimpses of the orang utans, luckily these trails were closed), an information centre and a gift shop.

Simply a memorable visit!

MY VERDICT:
Somewhat inaccessible, but that is the purpose I guess ie: to stop the wildlife centre from becoming a zoo with sorry-looking animals in captivity. Semenggoh Wildlife Centre is a must-visit for the adorable orang utans!

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