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Feeding orangutans at the Rasa Ria Nature Reserve – Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

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Feeding Orang-utans

Baby orangutan in BorneoThe Rasa Ria Nature Reserve was set up alongside the Shangri-La hotel in 1996 in collaboration with the Sabah Wildlife Department. The reserve provides a protected ecological space for endangered species where they can be rehabilitated and when possible reintroduced to their natural habitat.

Each day a very limited number of people can take a tour with a ranger. Twelve activities are on offer depending on your interests, but we chose the orangutan feeding.  The Shangri-La is some 30km out of town, but they’ve created a very attractive resort at quite a reasonable room rate, although little looks to be included in the price. The Nature Interpretation Centre blends into the jungle on the far side of the complex.

Once everyone is there they show an interesting and entertaining 20 minute video showing the work of the more famous Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. This memorably includes a wheelbarrow full of orang-utan babies.

Following a warning about mosquitoes we stood at the back applied repellent whilst all the seated people sprayed DEET over themselves and in the faces of whoever happened to be sitting nearby. We were then led on a mile long trek uphill to the boundary with the reserve where the orangutans were nowhere to be seen, but a troupe of monkeys waited expectantly.

As soon as the food was brought out the orangutans descended from the trees and competed with the monkeys for the food. All in all it was good fun, and according to one family who’d tried both, the small group made it a far more laid back experience than Sepilok.

At the time of writing tours cost RM70 each or RM40 for guests and is limited to 17 people per session with guests getting priority. For reservations email rrr at shangri-la.com, or call ext. 8012/8016. It’s also possible to visit Sepilok, but this is a short flight away from Kota Kinabalu and gets very mixed reports as it has more orang-utans but can be far too busy with up to 100 people jostling to take photos.

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Since leaving London in 2006 I’ve travelled, worked, volunteered and lived in over 90 countries. Highlights so far would be driving along the Silk Road from Beijing to Istanbul, a complete circuit of South America and volunteering with Habitat for Humanity in Costa Rica. I’m currently back in Beijing, as a base to visit more of Asia and attempt to learn Mandarin.

6 comments

    • Hi, Yes, that’s the ranger. Understandably you’re not allowed to touch, but we got within a meter of the baby orangutan. The ranger stood just the other side of a flower bed, so no zoom was used on the camera.

      Up at the viewing platform with the adult orangutans one of the braver ones did come and sit by the rails around the edge – I’ve added another picture above so you can see how close.

      Reply
  • That’s great! I’ve got some places in mind to visit and the orangutans are on my list. Thanks for the helpful info 🙂

    Reply
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  • how many orangutan already been reintroduced to their natural habitat from this Rasa Ria nature Reserve and where is the place for them to be in their own nature habitat ?

    Reply

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