Gardening for Sabah’s orang utans
Sabah’s orang utans are threatened by loss of habitat. The world’s insatiable demand for palm oil to use in processed food, cosmetics and biofuels has turned much of the fruit bowl of the orang utans’ forest into palm oil plantations. Fortunately the government has now called a halt to land clearing.
At the village of Abai, on the Kinabatangan River, villagers are replanting forest along the riverbank to help create a corridor for orang utans and other wildlife. When we visit we help out, planting figs, rambutans and durian, as well as some of the trees orang utans like to use as nesting spots.
This shot of an orang utan dining on fresh figs, taken by tour leader Libby Cameron, was snapped just behind our lodge. We also visit orang utan in the rehabilitation centre at Sepilok where young orang utan bred in captivity are trained to return to the wild.
While the halt to the palm plantations is a step toward saving the orang utan it does pose a new challenge for the sustainability of Sabah’s villagers. Tourism offers the villagers an opportunity to make a living through preserving the forest. And it’s definitely worth preserving. We all find Kinabatangan River a magical place. To join us in June, check out the itinerary or call 133 233 200.