New role for Semenggoh

Until recently known as an orangutan “rescue centre” the status has now changed to “nature reserve

For over 20 years, the wardens at Semenggoh Nature Reserve had been training young orangutans, orphaned or rescued from captivity, on how to survive in the wild. The success of this programme has left the surrounding forest reserve with a thriving population of healthy adolescent and young adult orangutans, who are now breeding in the wild.

SMGSA_p12-2The rescue programme has thus been transferred to Matang Wildlife Centre, leaving Semenggoh Nature Reserve as a comfortable home to its successful graduates, semi-wild orangutans and their babies.

These majestic animals – our closest “cousins” in terms of DNA, once kept illegally as pets, are trained on how to fend for themselves before being released into the forest. Over the years, a number of orangutans have been trained and released and now form a semi-wild colony in the reserve. As regular as clockwork, they swing down from the trees for a free handout of fruit. If it is the fruiting season in the forest, some or even all of them may not come to feed. This in itself is a good sign and another step on the way to full rehabilitation.


Matang Wildlife Centre is to be found at the western corner of the Kubah National Park, about 40 minutes’ drive from Kuching. The centre’s 180 hectares of lowland forest provides natural surroundings for orangutans and other local fauna. Matang is a dedicated centre where endangered species, such as orangutans, are rehabilitated and released into the forest. While they are being educated, they remain at the centre, enabling visitors to get close to animals they might not spot in days of wandering the jungle. (Please note that wildlife sighting activities in Matang Wildlife Centre will be temporarily ceased from 1st January 2020 until 30th June 2020 (6 months) in order to facilitate repair and maintenance works on the infrastructure.)


Foreign visitors to Sarawak are able to volunteer to work with an orangutan conservation programme. With Orangutan Project Sdn Bhd, a conservation company offering alternative solutions and sustainable funding opportunities for the endangered wildlife on Borneo, visitors can give “hands-on” help in their quest to save the Red Apes of Borneo, with monthly departures to Batang Ai National Park.

Photo: Orang-utan in Semenggoh park