KUCHING: The Semenggoh Wildlife Centre has become a victim of its own success that while so many orangutans have been successfully reintroduced to the surrounding forest reserve, it has run out of space.
The centre, which was established in 1975 to care for injured, orphaned wild animals or those that had been kept as pets illegally, only covers 652 hectares.
Sarawak Forestry Corporation Sdn Bhd chief executive office Datuk Ali Yusop said the reserve could only accommodate a maximum of 27 orangutans.
He said anything more than that would not be conducive for the population.
Currently, there are 12 male and 15 female orangutans, with the oldest being Seduku, a 42-year-old female.
Seduku is the mother of Analisa and the grandmother of Anakku and one-year-old Digital Guro, which has been adopted by Guro District of Seoul Metropolitan City, South Korea.
“We have transferred quite a number of orangutans to Matang Wildlife Centre because we do not want the Semenggoh forest reserve to be overpopulated and congested,” said Ali here yesterday after receiving the sponsorship from the South Korean city for Digital Guro.
There are currently 18 orangutans at Matang Wildlife Centre, which has been turned into a centre for rehabilitation.
He said Semenggoh’s role today was as a centre for the study of orangutan biology and behaviour as well as being a safe and natural haven for dozens of semi-wild orangutans.
There are only between 2,000 and 2,500 wild orangutans left in Sarawak.
He said Sarawak had over the years taken a lead role in conservation work, including carrying out wide-ranging researches.
Ali noted that the Conservation Centre of Excellence for Orangutan Research was an initiative undertaken by the state government to enhance research, with participation from the community.
He said it was strategically located in Nanga Delok, Batang Ai National Park, which together with Lanjak Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary and Betung Kerihun National Park in Indonesia, was the largest conservation area for Westen Borneo’s orangutan subspecies pongo pygmaeus pygmaeus.
“Apart from regional and international collaborations, we believe that conservation of orangutans should be a public affair, efforts to conserve orangutans will only be successful with full support and involvement of the public.
“Accordingly, we have come up with various ecotourism packages, all geared towards volunteerism and public involvement, with emphasis on hands-on experiences in conservation work such as our popular Heart2Heart with Orangutan, Junior Volunteer Orangutan Programme and so on,” he said.