Adventures in Sabah Borneo Malaysia – Serious Monkey Business – Best Blogs Series

Proboscis Monkey in Borneo

Proboscis Monkey in Borneo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: A male Proboscis monkey. Photo taken ...

English: A male Proboscis monkey. Photo taken along the Kinabatangan river near Bilit in Sabah, Malaysia (Borneo). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Proboscis monkey in the wild, Nasalis larvatus

Proboscis monkey in the wild, Nasalis larvatus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In case you missed it last year, I’m republishing this very popular blog.


Following on from our last blog which addressed our introduction to Sandakan, Sabah, in  this blog, we start to focus on the fauna and flora for which this area is world-renowned.

In a nutshell, we covered three major highlights with our driver in an amazing day; these were:

We left our hotel at about 8.30 am and headed for the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Center. We needed to be there for  10 am to see the first of two feeding times for the orangutans (alternative spelling).

Sepilok does some wonderful work in rescuing orangutans from captivity and human cruelty, providing excellent care and medical facilities, teaching the orangutans the skills that they will need in the wild. The objective is to return as many orangutans to the wild,  as possible, but safely, minimizing the risk to their survival. To understand the depths of the cruelty to orangutans, please open this link in which cites a true story where International Animal Rescue rescues a mother and baby. Even though there are others, Sepilok is the largest and most important rehab center for orangutans in Borneo.

Returning to the feeding ceremony at Sepilok, this is an amazing experience and a photographer’s delight. All the  orangutans assemble as soon as they hear the arrival of the keeper, they start their natural performance by showing how fast they can climb,  jump and do their acrobats in the trees. It is important to understand this is not a zoo but a school for monkeys, and the animals live in a natural environment in the rain-forest. Just as the food arrives, there is great excitement, everyone is happy, and the feeding begins; they sit quietly, eating their fruit until they have had their fill and then they go off dancing in the trees again. It is also so nice to see the mums and their babies hanging on their tummies as mum protects them.

We left Sepilok with a feeling of great satisfaction in the wonderful work that they are doing. We then headed to Labuk Bay, yet another monkey sanctuary, this time the Proboscis monkey, that we are told is endemic to Borneo. A very unusual looking primate with a very long nose – in mature males the nose can be seven inches in length [open this link for some amazing public photos of proboscis monkeys]. The male uses the length of his nose to attract a mate and the longer the nose the more popular he is with the ladies!  This center is privately owned and here we once again saw the feeding of this fascinating animal. Once again wonderful work is done here in trying to save this endangered species.

Our next stop that day was the Rain-Forest Discovery Center [open link for public photos]. This provided a lush forest in which to walk in various paths, with lots of of information about all the trees and plants. It was quite beautiful and very interesting. As we looked at the beautifully shaped and colored trees and plants, we reflected on the enormous percentage of rain-forest that had been lost forever to palm oil production.

After the   Rain-Forest Discovery Center, we returned to the nearby Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Center. We had missed the introductory film earlier in the the day, so went back  just before the 4 pm feeding and  this time we were able to see their video describing the excellent work that is being done here for orangutans, also the amount of effort that is being put into trying to educate the public on the importance of being kind to animals. Well, as we were there, we thought we would see the feeding time again! It was extremely crowded with lots of families with very young children, so it was very noisy with excitement. However, we were privileged to see a mum with her newly born baby orangutan.

This was a truly amazing day for us but it left us once again thinking about the loss of of the rain-forest to palm-trees and palm oil production.

We question whether the next generation of children in Malaysia will be able to see orangutans and  proboscis monkeys in the wild or will they just be confined to zoos and wildlife centers? We were fortunate and proud to have seen both of these species in the wild, in the jungles of Borneo; continue reading this blog, as it’s coming up soon!

Opinion – The migrant crisis is dividing Germany all over again – The Washington Post – John Gelmini

The above photo is at Calais, France. But the idea that Europe can or should take in vast numbers of Syrians, assorted Africans, Afghans, Pakistanis and others indefinitely is a nonsense at a time when we cannot provide enough jobs or opportunities for our own people. The migrant crisis affects the whole of Europe.

I thank Dr Alf for sharing the  Washington Post article on Germany but perhaps they look more closely at the immigration crisis within the US borders?

Obviously, the Western half of Germany is more prosperous than the East, so for the time being, the people there may be more relaxed and sanguine about the latest influx of 800,000 migrants, whereas people in Eastern Germany view the inward migration with justifiable alarm and trepidation.

The concept of taking in all comers and then dividing them up on a quota system, which can then be sold to gullible electorates as a “fair and proportionate” way to deal with the problem at a time when that electorate has not been consulted is grossly unfair and one which will eventually result in violence and civil commotion.

Amongst the migrants, there are undoubtedly terrorists but with migrants throwing away identity papers these dangerous people can slip through and once in the UK can buy fake NI numbers, new identities and live like a dormant plague here ready to wreak mayhem.

It is time to draw a line and send all of these people back, ideally to Libya, where by joint military force we should clear out an area of about half the country ridding it of troublemakers. A secure physical border, guarded by European troops and drones should then be established and all the migrants left there to settle with our assistance, help and advice.

My own parents came to the UK from Italy, after World War II, worked (my late mother was a housekeeper to a Cambridge dermatologist and a lecturer in history at Girton College) and went through the official system to be allowed to remain. I remember vividly attending the local police station in Great Shelford, with my late mother who had to report there as a “resident alien” until I was 7 years old. Prior to that, my mother and I lived in an institution, run by Roman Catholic nuns, not far from Paddington General Hospital where I was born. Mothers were pressured by the nuns to give up their babies to wealthy but infertile couples in exchange for money which they gave to the Catholic order in question. Those like my late mother who refused to give up their babies in this way were required to scrub floors in the basement, which in January during 1949 was at sub-zero temperatures. After that, my late mother found lodging for us in what is now Burwood Place at a block of flats owned by a Sicilian landlord, a Mr Paracino, who used to steal my late mother’s tips from residents whose flats she cleaned in exchange for free rent. It was after that she found a job as housekeeper with the good doctor and his wife, who at that time lived within 100 meters of the Centre Court at Wimbledon.

The EU and David Cameron, who is again on holiday, seem to have decided that if someone is determined enough to crawl under razor wire, brave riot police or run through the Channel Tunnel successfully, then they can stay in the EU country they end up in without further ado, and if they come to the UK they are probably given a council house and housing benefits as well.

Clearly the pendulum has swung too far in the wrong direction and things must change.

John Gelmini