From Borneo and Around

This blog is all about Borneo (and sometimes elswere) as I experience it. It's about places, people, fauna, food ... and anything I find pleasantly worth sharing in words and pictures.

Monday, January 2, 2012


“No. There are no gorillas in Borneo; at least not of the great apes family anyway. We do have orang-utans though.”

Who they are:

Orang-utan in Malay and local dialects mean person (orang) of the forest (utan) or more simply “man of the forest”. Scientists however refer to these great apes as Pongo Pygmaeus of which they are two groups: .The Pongo Pygmaeus Pygmaeus lives on the island of Borneo, is round faced and covered in dark red hair.

. The Pongo Pygmaeus Abelii lives in Sumatra, has a narrow face and a clearer coat.

Where they live in Borneo

In the wild, in the tropical rain forest and low-lying swamps.

In captivity, in rehabilitation centres set up in sanctuaries: Sepilok, near the town of Sandakan in Sabah; and Semmongoh and Kubah near Kuching in Sarawak. Indonesian Kalimantan has its own programme too.

What they look like

Like men of the forest dressed in a red furry coat. Large body, thick neck, long and very strong arms, bowed legs, no tail. They can weigh 50 to 90kg.

What they really are

Great Asian apes or perhaps Maias, the name given to the local Big Foot.

How long they’ve been around

20 million years it seems!

How long they are going to be around

Depends on us. In Borneo (Sabah/Sarawak) there are only about 12 000 of them left to live in the wild.

How long they live

About 50 years in captivity, which is longer than it is in the wild.

How fast they reproduce

Rather slow. It takes 7 to 10 years for a female to be able to reproduce. It takes about 9 months for her to deliver her baby. One single baby! It takes another 4 years at least before she mates again as she has to look after her first or youngest child who will stay with her for as long as 6 to 7 years. Daddy does not stick around. Luckily the eldest helps with the newly born sibling.

What they eat

Mostly plants and fruit and sometimes insects and small birds; they are omnivores.

What they drink

Water trapped in branches or leaves.

Where they sleep

They build platform nests in the trees using twigs and leaves and they build a new “bed” every night; a good idea to prevent infestation by insects or unwelcome visits by snakes.

How they move around

From branch to branch; this is called brachiating. They are great swingers!

How to help

Is by visiting WWF Malaysia website and donate.

These pictures were taken at

Semmongoh Centre (by yours truly). I am so fortunate to live only 5km away from the centre so that I can visit the orang-utans many times a year.

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