The one thing I have said to myself that I must do before I die is to see the “Orang Utan“. My dream came true when I visited Sarawak, and a visit to the Orang Utan’s reserve park – Semenggoh. Orang Utan is a Malay word. “Orang” means people. “Utan” or “Hutan” means jungle. Orang Utan is the largest primates of the great ape. They can only be found in the wild in Borneo and Sumatra. I understand from our tour guide that the orang utan family at Semenggoh came from the Indonesian rainforest of the Borneo Island. This family of 26 belongs to the male and “king” of the Semenggoh sanctuary. His name is “Ritchie”. I was told that he is very strong and large and dangerous if provoke. Like any wildlife in their natural habitat, it depends on “luck” if we get to see Ritchie or not.
We arranged a morning shuttle service pick-up from the hotel at 8 am, and arrived at Semenggoh about 8:45 am for the 9 am feeding time. When we arrived, there were already a few tourist shuttles. We were lucky, as not far from the parking was “Delima” and her less than a year old baby.
Our guide told us to hurriedly move along to the lower feeding platform. There are two feeding platforms – the lower platform, and a second platform which is a short walk inside inside the forest, further away from the open space and crowd.
I made my way to the lower platform like the others. But, before we reached the platform, Delima decided to carry her baby and crossed in front of our path. We had to stay a distant away from her and her baby, as instructured by the rangers. While we waited, Delima cracked open a coconut with her two hands and teeth, to drink the juice and ate the flesh. I was about 3-5 metres in front of her. It was a great experience. She looked gentle and calm, and undeterred by the crowd. We were warned by the rangers to keep our distance and be extremely quiet. Once the orang utan gets upset, he/she can be aggresive and dangerous. There had been incidents where people got hurt, including the rangers. There were photos at the information centre to proof the damage the orang utan can do to a human.
We arrived at the lower platform. One of the ranger was explaining some rules to follow while at “Ritchie’s home”. He warned us to run if we are told to run! We are also told not to fight with the orang utan if the primate came to snatch our bag. Just let go, as the orang utan is clever and know there is food inside. They are not out to steal the “money”! We were also told not to block the path of the orang utan if we happen to come across one in front of us. We were told that we are not at a zoo, and that this is the real thing – the rainforest, home to 26 members of the orang utan. We are in their territory. It was quite “comforting” to know that they are not tame, not like in the movies!
While I watched Delima and her baby eating the bananas on the platform, I heard some noises up the trees at a distant. It was another female with her baby. I was delighted that I was lucky to witness two females and each with their baby making to the feeding platform. Delima’s baby was trying to get the attention of the other baby orang utan, but the other one was not happy to play along. Both female orang utan kept their distant, and kept a watchful eyes on their baby. It was fascinating to observe the primates behaviour which is not much different from us human mum.
I made my way to the other platform, further inside the forest. When I got there, there were already a lot of people, and it was a bit noisy from some of the tourists, and teenage girls. There were several signs asking the tourists to keep quiet, but yet they were making noises. I think that was the reason that we sat and stood there for fifteen minutes and none of the orang utan came out for their feeding, especially Ritchie. The ranger finally asked everyone to leave and shut the area.