Protecting Orangutans and their habitat is a global responsibility

Rasa Ria Nature Interpretation Centre (NIC) – Sabah

Introduction

The Orangutan is a highly endangered species of great ape whose existence is threatened by wanton habitat destruction through logging and forest fires.

They are 97% human like.

The prime reason for logging the natural habitat is to enable the planting of Palm oil plantations, which oil product is used in many everyday items such as some noodles and chocolate. This action causes many Orangutans to be displaced, orphaned and hunters unfortunately also target this magnificent and very intelligent animal.

Under the watchful eye of the Sabah Wildlife Department, the young orphaned Orangutans are taken to the Rasa Ria Nature reserve and are undergoing the first stage of rehabilitation.

Over a period of 3-5 years they are being prepared for the second stage of rehabilitation at the Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in Sepilok, Sandakan. This centre is the biggest of it’s kind in the world.

Once the two phases of rehabilitation are completed, the orangutans will then be carefully guided back to their natural habitats in the wild.

Rasa Ria encourages visits to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre where large adult orangutans, both male and female, are frequently sighted. They hope the visits to Rasa Ria and Sepilok will raise appreciation towards Sabah’s immense efforts in protecting these wonderful animals.

Touring the Nature Interpretation Centre

Upon arrival at the NIC, we are seated and the famous documentary, Man of the Forest, part of the Orangutan UK Appeal, is shown. The 20min doco gives viewers a detailed insight into the challenges faced by the orangutan and the great work carried out by Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre, which is giving the Orangutan a ray of hope.

Following a tour of the NIC facility we then commence our 1-hour trek deep into the jungle to catch a glimpse of some of the reserves latest arrivals.

As we climb steeply up a narrow track we see a raised timber deck, a feeding station, connected by a series of ropes crossing the jungle canopy.

As young orangutans do not yet have the ability to source their own food, rangers provide regular meals to the young orangutans via the feed stations.

While we are standing on the deck, more than five baby orangutans come swinging through the jungle, across the canopy above our heads, they are fast, funny and do look like old men.

We are lucky they feel safe enough to come very close to us, the ranger advises that in the reserve we do not touch the orangutans, just being close is a special feeling. They stay for about 30 mins and then slowly swing away, disappearing into he jungle.

Continuing along the path we trek for another 30-45 mins traversing along a 40mt high canopy walkway seeking out other local flora and fauna. We came across Monkey’s, turtles and many types of butterflies.

Rasa Ria and the local rangers’ fantastic efforts in educating visitors and protecting and rescuing displaced orangutans is world known, their commitment, passion and continuing efforts are giving the orangutans of Borneo a ray of hope.

In Australia and across the world many organizations are also assisting the orangutan’s plight.

Studio Green provides sponsorship support to Katie, Wulan, Cinta and Ten Ten through the Rasa Ria NIC.

Images are available via here

Please see the below links for ways you can add your support.

http://www.zoo.org.au/Borneo

http://www.zoo.org.au/PalmOil

http://www.orangutan-appeal.org.uk/

 

Green building and eco educational trip to Malaysia 2012

Green building and eco educational trip to Malaysia 2012

Geoff will be undertaking a 10 day Green building and Eco Educational trip to Malaysia in mid February 2012.

The start of the trip includes  touring the latest green buildings of Kuala Lumpur including attendance at Green Build Asia 2012

Green Build Asia 2012

Asia’s No.1 Event on Sustainable Building, Design & Construction

The world of sustainable building, design and construction will converge in Kuala Lumpur for Green Build Asia 2012 Exhibition & Conference. Held at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC).

The event is expected to be attended by over 10,000 delegates and trade buyers from across the region to get updated on the latest in property, building design, materials, construction equipment and interiors. Hosted by the Construction Industry Development Board, Malaysia, the event is Asia’s No.1 Business-to-Business Event devoted to Green Building.

Days 3-10 will be spent visiting the Sepilok Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre, Gayana Eco resort and the UNESCO listed Kinabalu Park.

Sepilok Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre

The Sepilok Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre was set up in 1964 to rehabilitate orphaned baby orang-utan. Set in the lush 4,300-hectare Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve.

The Centre under the administration of the Wildlife Department of Sabah attracts tourists and researchers alike, giving them the opportunity to watch the orang-utan up close in their natural habitat.

A boardwalk leads to a viewing area and feeding platform where the apes are fed milk and bananas twice a day by rangers. Feeding time also attracts long-tailed macaques to the area.

While orang-utan rehabilitation is still the primary goal at Sepilok, it also focuses on public education on conservation, research and assistance on other endangered species such as the rhinoceros.

Gayana Eco resort

Gayana Eco Resort rests serenely at the edges of a lush jungle forest on a coral reef island off the coast of Borneo. 52 over water, tropical villas are architecturally designed to enhance the soothing sounds of the surf below while capturing the enduring vistas of Mt. Kinabalu on the distant horizon.

At its heart, the resort is about protecting and re-generating our precious Marine Ecology, and the only such property to feature its own, on-site Marine Ecology Research Centre passionately propagating endangered Giant Clams and restoring natural coral reefs; where guests actively participate in restoring vibrant life back to once damaged ocean floors.

Kinabalu Park

Kinabalu Park was gazetted as the first State Park in Sabah in 1964 and declared Malaysia’s first World Heritage Site by UNESCO in the year 2000 for its outstanding biological attributes.

Also the Centre of Plant Diversity for South East Asia, the Park boasts more than 5,000 vascular plant species, an estimated 1,000 orchid species, 621 fern species, nine Nepenthes species, 29 Rhododendron species and two Rafflesia species.

The Park has no shortage of fauna as well, being home to some 90 lowland mammal species, 22 montane mammal species, 21 bat species, 326 bird species, 62 toad and frog species and a large population of the 850 butterfly species that occur in Sabah.

Out of the 29 bird species that are endemic to Borneo, at least 17 are confined to the mountains, notably Mount Kinabalu. These include subspecies of the Red breasted Tree-partridge, Crimson-headed Wood-partridge and Mountain Blackbird.

Such diversity is truly the makings of a naturalists’ paradise!

Rainforest Eco Camp -Khao Sok, Thailand

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Rainforest Eco Camp – Khao Sok, Thailand

I was invited in October 2011 to visit this amazing eco retreat as part of an educational trip to study eco based retreats and resorts; I also visited Elephant Hills as part of this trip. See Elephant Hills post.

The Rainforest Camp, one of the only floating tented camps in the world is surrounded by the jungles and towering Limestone Mountains of Khao Sok National Park. The plants and animals resident in the flooded forest still thrive in the dense jungles and towering mountains that surround the lake. Species include numerous monkeys, elephants, water buffalos, bears and countless plants including the world’s largest flower species the Rafflesia which can measure almost a meter across.

Following on from our stay at the Elephant Hills Camp we arrive at Cheow Larn Lake, a Hydro lake operated by the Thai Government. Here we board a traditional Long Boat which takes us for a pleasurable 1 hour ride to the far reaches of this huge, 185 Square kilometres, and deep, an average of 90 metres, lake.

10 Luxury Safari Tents with en-suite bathrooms provide an intimate base for us to explore southern Thailand’s tropical rainforest. Powered purely by both Solar and Wind energy and using unique waste management systems, Black Water Recycling, our stay at the Rainforest Camp will leave no negative impact on the surrounding forest. Elephant Hills Rainforest Camp is designed to be as responsible as possible, allowing you to be at one with nature. This has to be the most unique and responsible way to experience the true beauty of Southern Thailand’s endangered rainforest habitat!

On arrival we were greeted by the local camp manager and our guide who was to be with us for the next couple of days. We dropped our gear and quickly took one of the many kayaks to paddle through klongs and channels in search of monkeys and birds, we were lucky enough to see a flock of the rare Horn Bill birds which are known for inhabiting this area but rarely seen.

Once back to the camp we relax from the front of our tent and watch the sun set over the jungle, followed by a swim in the emerald waters of Cheow Larn Lake. The evening meal is a combination of fish, fresh from the lake, local salads and vegetables and a few refreshing cold beers.

Day two we raise to a stunning sun rise and hearty breakfast, in readiness for a half day trek in a part of the National Park. Here we climb up, very steeply, through the dense jungle on a narrow track, seeking out wild hogs, butterflies, birds and gibbons, and it’s HOT.

Almost at the top of the mountain our guide takes us into a deep, and cool, cave where, from a safe distance we encounter a number of snakes, an amazing experience if somewhat frightful.

Our decent is steep and slippery through the lush jungle but we finally make it to a deep blue lagoon where a Long Boat is awaiting to return us to the camp to collect our gear and have a final refreshing swim.

As we speed across the lake we can see many monkeys and bird life scattered across the high cliffs and low grass banks of the lake. The journey ends with a boat ride back to Cheow Larn Lake port where we head off to Khao Lak with many great learning’s about these fantastic and unique eco retreats.

See Elephant Hills post for more information and follow Flickr link to see photos.

http://www.rainforestcamp.com

http://www.youtube.com/user/ElephantHills

Elephant Hills Eco Camp – Khao Sok, Thailand

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Elephant Hills Eco Camp – Khao Sok, Thailand

Elephant Hills is Thailand’s first luxury tented jungle camp combining the camp ideas of African national parks with the Thai tropical forest environment.

I was invited in October 2011 to visit this amazing eco retreat as part of an educational trip to study eco based retreats and resorts.

Elephant Hills 30 luxurious tents are tailor-made and set in the largest area of protected rainforest in Southern Thailand. Each tent features twin beds, fan, kettle, and a luxurious bathroom with toilet and hot/cold shower. The tents provide ample space and are well protected against mosquitoes and other possible intruders. The furniture is handmade by local skilled craftsmen using natural materials and provides all the comfort you would normally find in a hotel room. There are enough lights to read by and fill your diaries with the day’s observations and importantly power to recharge your iPad and Camera.

At the centre of the camp is the semi-open air, main camp housing the restaurant. This serves as the place to meet other guests, dine and relax. It also has a number of information boards which give guests an in-depth understanding of the local area, wildlife and history.

The forest is filled with animals and plants, some of them can only be found in this environment. Two nights and three days at Elephant Hills is a unique experience; the temperatures drop, campfires create a romantic and warm atmosphere in which to share travel tales and the rainforest and its inhabitants form an exciting concert that accompanies visitors through the night.

Upon arrival the camp manager personally guided us around the camp and explained the main features, the next few days’ activities and helped all guests get settled in.

Fantastic traditional Thai fare was on offer for the evening, served at a communal table this enabled all guests to get know one another and chat about the retreat and how we came to be there. Some had been travelling around Asia, a couple caught the train from Bangkok and I transferred from Kamala where I had visited an area devastated by the Tsunami a number of years ago.

In the morning we awoke to the different noises of the forest; the jungle wakes up whilst the hills surrounding the camp are still covered in mist. Once the mist disappears, the lush greenery of the tropical rainforest stunningly lights the day and it is possible to take in the magnificent views of the surrounding rainforest covered mountains.

With a guide we kayak down river for approx 1 hour slowly and quietly drifting past local villages, farms and stunning landscape, and in the distance the Elephant Hills which rise above the rainforest.

We arrived at a historical local cave where we left our canoe guides and walked through to an area where a jeep was waiting to transport us to the Elephant Hills Elephant Reserve.

Here we spend the day assisting the local handlers to feed and wash the Elephants, prepare various foods and maintain extensive vegetable gardens.

Upon return to the camp we took a dip in the pool which rests at the base of the Limestone Mountains.

Dinner that evening included a cooking lesson in traditional jungle curries and a dance performance by children from a local school which is part of Elephant Hills Corporate Social Responsibility charter, the school directly benefits form a portion of profits from the camp and any donations guests make.

On our last day here we are transfer to the Elephant Hills other camp the Rainforest Camp, one of the only floating tented camps in the world, situated on one of Thailand’s most spectacular rainforest lakes.

See Rainforest Camp post for more information and follow Flickr link to see photos.

www.elephant-hills.com
http://www.facebook.com/ElephantHills