Three baby orangutans born in Sepilok

Julia Chan
Rosa, a 16-year-old female orangutan is now the happy mother of a beautiful and healthy female baby which she delivered on 26 May 2018. — Picture courtesy of the Sabah Wildlife Department

KOTA KINABALU, July 12 — As wildlife carers celebrated the birth of three baby orangutans here, the joy was marred by the death of an orangutan adjacent to the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve in Sandakan.

A semi-adult male orangutan was found dead inside a nearby orchard adjacent to the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve on July 11 by the staff of a nearby resort. The animal was believed to have died from natural causes due to the lack of external wounds.

“Personnel from the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre rushed to the scene upon receiving the report and found the carcass lying on the ground without any sign of infliction or physical injury.

“Preliminary investigation suggests no suspected foul play. A full post-mortem will be carried out to determine the cause of death,” said Sabah Wildlife Department spokesman Nurain Ampuan Acheh.

Meanwhile, the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre welcomed the birth of three newborn baby orangutans in the last two weeks.

All three were birthed by orangutans that had arrived here as young orphans, successfully acquiring forest skills through the rehabilitation program at Sepilok and returning back into the forest.

Orangutans are known to have the slowest life history when compared to other mammals, a factor contributing to their threatened condition in the wild. The population requires decades to recover to normal due to a slow reproductive rate and declining numbers.

Female orangutans only start reproducing at the ages of eight to nine. The babies are weaned between three to six years but will stay with their mother for as long as nine years.

This binds the mother-baby relationship and allows the baby to acquire survival and life skills from the mother.

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.

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