The Semenggoh Wildlife Centre was established in 1975 to care for wild animals which have either been found injured in the forest, orphaned, or were previously kept as illegal pets. It has been a resounding success, caring for endangered mammals, birds and reptiles from dozens of different species. However, it is the orang utan rehabilitation programme that has made the Centre famous. In one respect, Semenggoh has been too successful – so many orang utan have been successfully reintroduced into the surrounding forest reserve that the forest’s carrying capacity has been reached, and rehabilitation activities have been transferred to the Matang Wildlife Centre, part of Kubah National Park.
As a result of its success, Semenggoh’s role has changed and it is nowadays a centre for the study of orang utan biology and behaviour, as well as a safe and natural haven for dozens of semi-wild orang utan, graduates of the rehabilitation programme.
A visit to Semenggoh is a once in a lifetime experience – a chance to see semi-wild orang utan, ranging from tiny infants and boisterous adolescents to dignified mature adults, enjoying life in a secure natural habitat. The best time to visit Semenggoh is during the morning and afternoon feeding sessions between 9.00-10.00am and between 3.00-4.00pm. As feeding time approaches, the semi-wild orang utan emerge from the rainforest, descending from the forest canopy to the lower branches of trees near feeding platform. They are highly entertaining creatures and offer a wealth of facial expressions to visitors.
For the visitor, feeding times provide a unique opportunity to view the orang utan at close range. The animals usually spend considerable time feeding in one place, either on the wooden platform, in a nearby tree or hanging from guide ropes. Visitors therefore have an excellent view, a remarkable photo opportunity, and ample time to appreciate the intelligence and beauty of these fascinating forest creatures.
The wildlife rehabilitation centre is part of the Semenggoh Nature Reserve. The other major component of this conversation project is the Botanical Research Centre (BRC). With ethnobotanical gardens, wild fruit orchards, a “Fernarium”, a Rheophyte garden and more, the BRC has much to offer the visitor. Five nature trails and a plankwalk have been laid out to allow visitors the opportunity of seeing the various gardens. The trails are all relatively short with trekking times ranging from 5-30 minutes, whilst the time required for the plankwalk is approximately 30 minutes. A plant identification system has been created alongside the plankwalk so that visitors are able to familiarise themselves with some of the better known trees and plants. For example, Dipterocarps such as Meranti and Engkabang are highlighted, as are wild fruit trees such as Cempedak (jackfruit) and the infamous Durian.
There is a nominal entry fee for all National Parks and Nature Reserves in Sarawak. Visitors to Semenggoh can pay their entry fee at the main gate.