Semenggoh Wildlife Centre is an orangutan sanctuary and nature reserve. It offers the chance to get up close to semi-wild orangutan. Located approximately 24 km from Kuching, Semenggoh was set up in 1975 to care for wild animals that had been previously kept as illegal pets, orphaned or found injured in the rainforest.
Over the years a number of orangutan have been successfully rehabilitated and released into the 653 hectare forest reserve. A number of these ‘graduates’ have had young and these orangutan have spent their entire lives roaming wild within this protected area. Released orangutan spend most of their time in the forest but some do return to the centre where they are fed twice daily.
Today there are over twenty orangutan living at Semenggoh and the forest reserve’s carrying capacity has been reached. Sarawak’s orangutan rehabilitation activities have now been transferred to Matang Wildlife Centre but Semenggoh remains the best place in Sarawak to get up-close with orangutan.
The best time to visit is during the morning and afternoon feeding sessions. These take place daily at 9 am and 3 pm. Its a good idea to reach the centre before the feeding commences. Sometimes the orangutan come early and hang out near the HQ. If you are there early you may get a chance to watch them before they move to the feeding platform.
So what can visitors expect at Semenggoh?
If you have your own transport, go by Taxi (or Grab Car) or you are on a tour, you pay any fees at the main gate and then drive for a couple of minutes to the car park and HQ area. There are washrooms, a gift shop and a small information gallery here. If you arrive by bus you will need to walk from the main gate to the HQ area which takes around 20 minutes.
As it gets close to feeding time orangutans sometimes descend from the trees near the HQ area. 5 minutes before feeding time a park ranger will give a short talk and safety briefing. You then follow the rangers along a jungle path to the feeding area. One of the rangers will head to the feeding platform carrying a bucket of food and sometimes bottles of milk. He or she will then call out the names of the orangutans that roam the nature reserve.
The orangutans are given are variety of food including bananas, pineapples, oranges, sugar cane, sweet potatoes, coconut, papayas and hard boiled eggs.
On most days orangutans will descend from the canopy to the trees and vegetation near the platform. Sometimes they will grab some food and quickly move off into the forest. On other occasions they will hang around for 30-60 minutes. It really depends on luck. Sometimes there are 1-3 individuals and on other days you may see 4-8 or more orangutans. If you are really lucky Ritchie the dominant male will turn up or maybe a mother with a young baby.
However, on some days no orangutans show up. This happens during the fruiting season when there is abundant food in the forest so the orangutans do not need to return to the centre for a ‘freebie’.
Semenggoh is open to the public from 8.00 am to 10.00 am and from 2 pm until 4 pm. The entry fee for adults is RM 10 (Foreigner) and RM 5 (Malaysian) whilst for children (aged 6-17) it is RM 5 (Foreigner) and RM 2 (Malaysian). For children below 6 entrance is free.
Our small group Semenggoh Orangutan tour departs daily at 8 am.