Sarawak’s Semenggoh Reserve Changes Tack

Known until recently as an orangutan rehabilitation centre, Semenggoh, near Kuching in Sarawak, is now simply known as a “nature reserve”.

For over 20 years, the wardens at Semenggoh Nature Reserve had been training young orangutans, orphaned or rescued from captivity, on how to survive in the wild. The success of this programme has left the surrounding forest reserve with a thriving population of healthy adolescent and young adult orangutans, who are now breeding in the wild.

Semenggoh orangutan 4
Orangutan at Semenggoh reserve in Sarawak (holding a coconut)

The rescue programme has thus been transferred to Matang Wildlife Centre, leaving Semenggoh Nature Reserve as a comfortable home to its successful graduates, semi-wild orangutans and their babies. They spend most of their time roaming the forest but frequently come back to the Centre for a free meal. If it is the fruiting season in the forest, some or even all of them may not come to feed. This in itself is a good sign and another step on the way to full rehabilitation.

Feeding Times: The best time to visit Semenggoh is during the morning and afternoon feeding sessions when there is a good chance of seeing semi-wild orangutan returning to the centre for a free meal.  Feeding takes place between 9.00-10.00am and between 3.00-4.00 pm.

Semenggoh orangutan 14Matang takes over as main rescue centre

Matang Wildlife Centre is to be found at the western corner of the Kubah National Park, about 40 minutes’ drive from Kuching. The centre’s 180 hectares of lowland forest provides natural surroundings for orangutans and other local fauna. Matang is a dedicated centre where endangered species, such as orangutans are rehabilitated and released into the forest. Most individuals were confiscated from members of the public, who illegally kept them as pets, and must be taught how to fend for themselves in the wild. While they are being educated, they remain at the centre, enabling visitors to get close to animals they might not spot in days of wandering the jungle.

There are more than just animals to see at Matang. You can enjoy a series of rock pools, a swimming area, picnic spots, camping sites, scenic nature trails, three waterfalls, a viewing area and enclosures for viewing semi-wild animals. There are various ecotourism projects being carried out at Matang wildlife centre, such as Heart to Heart with orangutan and the orangutan Junior Program.