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 Local

Sepilok celebrates three newborn orangutans

13th July, 2018

By MICHAEL TEH

KOTA KINABALU: The Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre (Sepilok) celebrates the birth of three newborn baby orangutans in the last two weeks.

According to State Wildlife Department spokesperson, Siti Nur’Ain Ampuan Acheh, all three were delivered by female orangutans that once arrived at Sepilok as young orphans, and returned to the forest after successfully acquiring forest skills through the rehabilitation program at the Center.

“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 in them through the rehabilitation program,” she noted.

Sepilok has about more than 18 reproductive females and with a history of more than 40 wild born babies with a second and third generation.

“Rosa, a 16-year-old female orangutan is one of the many success stories one can be proud of. She came to Sepilok from Ladang Syarimo 2 Lahad Datu in 2002 at the age of 1 ½ years old. She has completed the program and was released into the forest. She is now the happy mother of a beautiful and healthy female baby which she delivered last 26th May 2018,” cited Siti.

Orangutans are known to have the slowest life span when compared to other mammals, a factor contributing to their threatened condition in the wild as slow reproductive rate affects survivorship and the cascading in numbers requires decades to recover back to normal.

Female orangutan only starts reproducing at the age 8-9 years. The babies are weaned between 3 to 6 years but will stay with their mother for as long as 9 years. This binds the mother-baby relationship and allows the baby to acquire survival and life skills from the mother.

The second orangutan is named Cinta. She was brought in from Kg Batu Putih Kinabatangan.

Admitted in 2007, Cinta, the 11-year-old gave birth to a female baby on 3rd of July 2018. Cinta brought a beautiful story to Sepilok when she adopted an orphaned baby monkey before she became pregnant.

The third orangutan, Lumiud, a 7 year old was admitted to the Centre in 2011 from Sukau, Kinabatangan.

“Her name meant ‘flood’ and it silhouetted the big flood that hit Kinabatangan during that year. She was saved by a fisherman, who saw her stranded in a tree all alone near the river bank.

“Lumiud gave birth to a male baby orangutan last 10th of July 2018. Sadly, the baby had to be separated from the mother after the Center observed a problem in her mothering skills. Nevertheless, both mother and baby are now under close observation and the baby to be given a 24-hour care by the Sepilok staff,” Siti elaborated.

She further noted that the existence of Sepilok since 1964 have mirrored other rehabilitation centers after its time.

“It was the first center established, the oldest and the longest surviving rehabilitation center in the world. It acknowledged the positive commitment from the Government to conserve this iconic species from extinction and to ensure the continuous existence of the center that has allowed the opportunity of many to witness orangutan in its natural environment, opened up opportunities for research, business enterprises and an education hub,” she said.

   
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