Somehow I’m almost one month into this adventure and time really has flown. Living out of a rucksack and this nomadic existence are already feeling normal to me. I’ve swapped TV for books and social media for card games, changes that have brought me so much peace. From this rainforest retreat I feel that I must share a book recommendation: And the Mountains Echoed. Hosseini writes beautifully bringing to life the stories of such a wide variety of characters. The tales so honestly portray the varying relationships between parent and child, how interconnected lives can be and how the general passing of time can have such an effect on individuals. With revision and wider reading, I didn’t have much time to just enjoy books during sixth form and I feel so incredibly lucky to have been given the time to explore so many exceptional books during this year. Of all the books I’ve read so far this gap year And the Mountains Echoed is definitely the one that I have enjoyed the most and the one which has had the biggest impact on me. Make sure to have some tissues at hand.
However this blog’s main subject is not books. It’s something far more exciting: orangutans. So we arrived at the Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre in a flurry of anticipation. For most of us, this was one of the main reasons we’d come all the way to Borneo. Sepilok is not a zoo, it’s a rainforest. There is no guarantee of seeing the animals because the centre is essentially the wild. We had a very lucky day indeed. On arriving at the feeding platform there was rustling above us, an orangutan nest and a very human hand poking out. My first sighting of an orangutan. And then the food came out. As watermelon and papaya were emptied from the basket, the ropes near by started to swing. While attention was distracted by this, the orang who had been peacefully napping above our heads decided to come and join the feast, walking right between us all. Soon the three orangs sat on the feeding platform, backs to us for most of the time, as they fed themselves fruit in an uncannily human fashion. It wasn’t like watching an animal eat, it was like watching small children pick at their favourite snacks.
From the feeding platform we headed to the outdoor nursery where we saw some of the youngest and most recently rescued orangutans swinging from the ropes and doing roly-polies. Every animal had a different appearance and personality to the others making watching them so entertaining and enchanting. As we left the sanctuary on the boardwalks we saw two hands grasping one of the railings and then a whole orangutan appeared, sitting on top of the railing and having a good look at us all as we passed.
Next we set off for the Sun Bear sanctuary. The smallest bear in the world and unique to Borneo, Sun Bears are sometimes kept as pets and mistreated as they grow too big and too violent to be cute anymore. Here we were able to watch the bears in their natural habitat, climbing trees and looking for the most comfortable sleeping position. Sleeping at the top of a tree didn’t look exactly comfortable to me though.
The sad fact is that all of the animals at Sepilok are on the list of endangered species. If we don’t care for our planet then there might not be any orangutans or any Sun Bears left. Conservation work is key to protecting these animals, by preserving their habitat, they can continue to live in peace. Preventing animals from becoming extinct should be our responsibility so that future generations can enjoy the wonders of wildlife just as we may. You may think that there is little that you can do to help, after all it is the locals who keep caging the bears as pets and cutting down the trees for new developments. It’s surprising how far an act of kindness can go though. You can help by donating to projects out here in Borneo which aim to educate local communities so that they know how and why to protect these animals. To donate or find out more follow the link below:
Outside of the endangered species, there’s a wider message to be made here. Share a little love and be considerate about global issues, whether you can see them or not. In our busy lives it’s easy to forget about world hunger, war and poverty. It’s also easy to forget about domestic abuse, mental health issues and all the many, many silent battles that people may be fighting right in your communities. We’ve only got one planet and one human race, treasure it all.
I’ll keep you posted,