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A Guide To The Orangutans Sanctuaries In Borneo

orangutans swinging through the trees

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Borneo is this mystic land known for its untamed rainforest and unique jungle wildlife such as pigmy elephants, proboscis monkeys, clouded leopards, sun bears, tigers, and most famous of all – the Bornean orangutans.

But any visitor to Borneo today will be shocked by what lies in front of them. Where the rainforest once stood, more than 50% of it has been cut down since the 80s, making way for palm oil plantations, mainly.

This deforestation has put many of these animals in critical danger of being extinct, and now the best way to see orangutans in Borneo, and sometimes the only way, is at an Orangutan Sanctuary in Borneo.

Fortunately, there are a few Orangutan rehabilitation centers in Borneo where orphaned babies can be cared for before they return to the wild.

In this guide, we’ll share with you each of the Orangutan Sanctuaries in Borneo and what they work towards.

Where To See Orangutans in Borneo

Borneo is an island made up of three countries: Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei. The best places to see orangutans in Borneo are on the Malaysian side of Borneo in the north, in the provinces of Sabah and Sarawak.

This is where most of the orangutan sanctuaries in Borneo are placed since they have connections to the rainforests of Borneo.

an oreangutan hanging from a rope

Most of Borneo belongs to Indonesia, and you can find a few sanctuaries in the Central and West Kalimantan provinces. However, most of the orangutan population of Indonesia lies on the island of Sumatra, to the southwest of Borneo.

Here are all the orangutan sanctuaries in Borneo and their history.

1. Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre (Pusat Pemuliharaan), Sandakan

orangutan on wooden platform on tree
Orangutan coming in for feeding at the Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary

Perhaps the most well-known orangutan sanctuary in Borneo is the Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary located just 25km outside Sandakan, to the west of the Sabah region of Borneo.

The rehabilitation centre has been open since 1964 and was the first official orangutan rehabilitation centre in Borneo, dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of orphaned baby orangutans.

Most of the orangutans were rescued from logging sites, illegal hunting or kept as pets, or those who wandered into plantations looking for a home.

You are pretty much guaranteed to see young orangutans at the nursery, where visitors can view the babies playing from behind glass.

Baby orangutan playing in the nursery

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