Thursday, January 16, 2014

Sepilok Part 3

We arrived at the viewing platform well in advance of the afternoon feeding, and were able to get a prime position before the majority of tourists arrived. After we had waited for a while the park staff lead a juvenile orangutan up to the feeding platform where he ate with intermissions of swinging around on the ropes.

Shortly afterwards the same mother and young that we had seen at the morning feeding arrived. Whereas in the morning the mother's primary focus appeared to be on eating and her offspring mostly hung on her back, this time around the mother's primary focus was on her baby whom she hugged and smothered with kisses. It was really lovely to watch, and yet another reminder of just how similar orangutans can be to humans.

 That doesn't mean that mom didn't take time to chill out...

 ...or to demolish some more fruit while she was there.

Once again she paused for a while as she headed back into the jungle to give us a good look at her baby.

It was another great opportunity to see these beautiful wild creatures at close proximity. I have to say, however, that overall I preferred the orangutan watching experience at Semenggoh to Sepilok. Sepilok felt a little bit too slick, and it was pretty clear that the staff ensure that at least one orangutan attends each feeding by leading them out to the feeding platform – it didn't completely feel like we were seeing wild animals. At Semenggoh it felt much more like the orangutans we saw were truly wild, and that a sighting depended much more on luck as the park staff had no control over which orangutans attended. The combination of seeing so many orangutans at one time, including such an impressive specimen as Big Daddy Ritchie, and it being our first sighting of wild orangutans made the experience at Semenggoh the most memorable. That said, I could spend many hours watching orangutans so I thoroughly enjoyed the chance to see more of them in their natural habitat.

We stayed at the resort in Sepilok for a couple more days to enjoy the swimming pool and the relatively luxurious surroundings. We also took a short taxi ride to an area which has an impressive canopy walkway. The walkway was much more stable than the one we had gone on in Taman Negara National Park in our first stint in Malaysia and we took our time to wander along and enjoy being up in the trees.

We also took a walk through the jungle to look for a tree known locally as the Sepilok Giant. After walking for a while we came across an absolutely ginormous tree whose root buttresses alone were well over twice my height.

After taking some photos we opted to extend our walk slightly by continuing in a loop rather than doubling back on ourselves. This was a lucky decision, as it turned out that the actual Sepilok Giant was a bit further on and made the first tree look positively dumpy by comparison.

The following day we reluctantly left Sepilok to continue our journey Westwards towards Mount Kinabalu National Park.

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