Located about 20km from Kuching, Semenggoh Nature Reserve is usually on a tourist itinerary when in town.
However as a locaI, I believe every Sarawakian should visit this place at least once in their lives.
Although we pride ourselves as being the home for orangutans here in Sarawak, I bet not all of us have actually seen one in real life.
And one of the nearest and accessible places to see an orangutan in the world is none other than the Semenggoh Nature Reserve.
This place has been a rehabilitation centre for young orangutans who have been unfortunately orphaned or rescued from captivity for more than 20 years.
The program which trains the young into healthy adult orangutans has been transferred to Matang Wildlife Centre.
But Semenggoh still plays home to some of the program’s graduates.
Most of them prefer to roam the forest but frequently come back to the reserve during feeding time.
Get to know Semenggoh’s official residents
The most interesting part of visiting Semenggoh Nature Reserve is getting to know the orangutan.
During my visit, three orangutans thought I was worthy of their presence.
The first one was whom they called the ‘Grand Old Lady of Semenggoh’.
Her name is Seduku and she was born in 1971. She is now a mother of three – Analisa, Saddamiah and Ganya.
The second orang utan is Edwin, a male born in 1996.
He is believed to be strong contender to Ritchie’s throne, the big boss (dominant male) of Semenggoh.
I visited the reserve on the day Malaysian politician Anwar Ibrahim was released from prison.
And interestingly, Annuar the orangutan also decided to show up during my visit at Semenggoh.
He was born in 1998 and is known to be real lady killer in the reserve.
Visiting the feeding area of Semenggoh is unlike going to the zoo.
There at Semenggoh, the orangutans are the VIPs. Hence, visitors need to make way for them at all times.
Guests are required to listen to the park ranger’s instructions.
At one point when we were leaving the feeding area to the park headquarters, we had to scramble back to the feeding area.
Apparently, Seduku was leisurely using the park’s trail (instead of swinging from the trees) to make her way to the feeding area.
We had to wait a few minutes to make way for her till the rangers told us the path was clear.
To learn more about orangutans at Semenggoh
Apart from observing the orangutans at Semenggoh Nature Reserve, visitors will learn a thing or two about this primate.
For example, do you know that the dominant male orangutan does not like to see his reflection in the mirror? This is because he thinks that his reflection is another male orangutan.
They also make use of their opposable thumb by peeling the banana skin before they eat.
Visitors are not allowed to bring plastic bottles into the feeding area because the baby orangutan uses them to drink milk.
Other rules at the reserve are to be quiet at all times at the feeding area, turn your flash off while taking photos and of course, no littering.
Show your support for the orangutans
Those who want to show their love and support for the orangutans can do so at Semenggoh.
With as low as RM200 annually, visitors can do their part by adopting an orangutan.
The money goes to food and medication for the orangutans at Semenggoh and Matang, orangutan conservation projects and education programs.
The best times to visit Semenggoh are during orangutan feeding times, 9am to 10 am and 3pm to 4pm.