KOTA KINABALU: The Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre is celebrating the arrival of three baby orangutans, born over the last two weeks.
The Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) said this was a sign that its rehabilitation work at the centre was working.
In a statement today, it said all three newborns were delivered by orangutans that had once arrived at the centre as young orphans.
They had successfully acquired forest skills through the rehabilitation programme at Sepilok and returned back to the forest.
SWD said orangutans are known to have a slower reproductive rate when compared with other mammals, a factor affecting their survival in the wild. They take decades to recover if their surroundings are disturbed.
Most of the orangutans brought to Sepilok are young orphans that have lost their mothers and are unable to survive on their own. It is these survival skills that Sepilok develops through its rehabilitation programme.
Sepilok has more than 18 reproductive females and has recorded the births of more than 40 newborns.
Rosa, a 16-year-old female orangutan, is one of the centre’s many success stories.
She came to Sepilok from Ladang Syarimo 2, Lahad Datu, in 2002 when she was 18 months old. She was released into the forest after completing the programme.
She is now the happy mother of a beautiful and healthy female baby, born on May 26.
The second orangutan is named Cinta. She came from Kg Batu Putih, Kinabatangan, in 2007.
Cinta, which is 11 years old, gave birth to a female baby on July 3.
Earlier, Cinta had “adopted” an orphaned baby monkey before she became pregnant.
Lumiud, meaning “floods”, a 7-year-old, was admitted in 2011 from Sukau Kinabatangan. She was saved from the floods in the area by a fisherman, who saw her stranded on a tree on the river bank.
Lumiud gave birth to a male baby orangutan on July 10. Sadly, the baby had to be separated from the mother after the centre observed a problem with her mothering skills.
Both mother and baby are now under close observation by the Sepilok staff.
Sepilok, which opened in 1964, is the oldest such rehabilitation centre in the world.
Sadly, the department today also issued a statement about the discovery of a dead orangutan.
The semi-adult male orangutan was found dead inside a nearby orchard, adjacent to the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve on Wednesday.
The staff of a nearby resort reported the incident to the Wildlife Department.
There was no sign of physical injury and a post-mortem will be carried out to determine the cause of death.
Meanwhile, the department has rescued a baby pygmy elephant found wandering in an oil palm plantation in Tawau on Tuesday about 3pm.
Department director Augustine Tuuga said a veterinary officer from the Tawau Veterinary Services Department provided medical assistance to the baby elephant.
“The baby elephant was found in weak condition but aware of its surroundings The team did not see any elephant group in the vicinity,” he said.
Tuuga said the team brought it to Tawau. It was fed with milk formula and also given fluids intravenously.
The baby elephant was later transported to Sepilok and arrived there around 5.30am on Thursday.
“A full medical check-up performed found the elephant was alert and receptive to drinking milk, although slightly dehydrated.
“Some small wounds found on its body are being treated,” he said.
The 95.5kg male baby elephant, believed to be two to three weeks old, will be kept at the Sepilok centre for the time being.