Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre

Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre

The Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilition Centre offers visitors the rare opportunity to see these majestic creatures in their natural habitat while supporting efforts to preserve them.

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Established in 1964, the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre (SOURC) is one of Sabah's premier tourist attractions. Hundreds of visitors stream every day to the centre to see these magnificent apes. The centre is located in the 40 sq km Kabili Sepilok Forest Reserve which sits 25km west of Sandakan. Visitors only have access to a small portion of the park to avoid excessive human interference with the animals' natural habitat.

Borneo's orang utans are considered an endangered species. The apes, which weigh up to 115kg (254lbs), have been reduced to a mere fraction of their population in the brief space of fifty years, mainly because of logging and the expansion of human developments into their natural habitat. SOURC is trying to enable sick or injured animals, as well as animals rescued from illegal captivity, to live again in the rainforest independent from human support.

Animals who have spent most of their lives in captivity often lack basic skills like the ability to climb trees or find food on their own. The orang utans have to go trough a multi-step school where they become slowly accustomed to an independent life in the wilderness. Throughout the history of SOURC, more than 100 animals have been released back to the rainforest.

Visitors have their best chance to see the orang utans during feeding time. At 10am and 3pm the apes get fed on a platform which is mounted on a large tree. Opposite this platform is the viewpoint where you can watch the animals eating. Depending on the season you will see up to a dozen of them coming to the feeding point. The rangers say the less apes show up the more it confirms the success of their program, as it proves their independence from human support. If you want to get the most of your visit it is recommended to come a view hours before feeding time as there are usually plenty of orang utans to spot around the park headquarters.

It is also worthwhile to check out the Visitor Information Centre which gives you a more in-depth explanation of the way the park operates. There is also a cafeteria for your convenience serving some local delights and refreshments.

If your main reason for visiting the area is to see the Rehabilitation Centre you might consider staying close by. There is plenty of B&B style accommodation available along Jalan Sepilok close to the centre. If you are just planning a day trip, it makes more sense to stay in Sandakan and take one of the buses from Sandakan's central bus station out to Sepilok.

The admission to the park is RM30/RM15 (adult/child) as well as a RM10 camera fee for those who want to have some orang utans to look at back home.

The park also offers volunteer programs if you are interested in supporting their efforts.