Orangutan care program nearly completed at Rasa Ria Resort



KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Wildlife Department and Shangri-Las Rasa Ria Resort & Spa, Kota Kinabalu announced they are nearing the completion of the successful jointly-managed Orangutan Rehabilitation and Conservation Programme a support programme of the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre of the Sabah Wildlife Department.

Launched in 1996, Shangri-Las Orangutan Care Project provides specialist care for orphaned orangutans in a sanctuary located within the resorts private 64-acre Nature Reserve.

Over the course of nearly 20 years, 43 orphaned orangutans have successfully completed the first phase of their rehabilitation under the care of trained rangers in the nature reserve before moving to the renowned Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre.

Once orangutans complete the reintegration programme at Sepilok, they are released into the adjacent Kabili Sepilok Forest Reserve. All remaining orangutans at Rasa Rias Nature Reserve will be relocated to Sepilok by April.

In addition to orangutan rehabilitation, the resorts programme provides a platform for education on wildlife conservation to school children and the general public based on the West Coast of Sabah.

Over the past two decades there have been extensive efforts to educate the public and increase awareness and understanding of the plight of these endangered primates, said Jonathan Reynolds, general manager of Shangri-Las Rasa Ria Resort & Spa.

We are grateful for the opportunity to have been able to bring close to 12,000 students from 276 schools in Sabah to see our Orangutan Care project so they could gain a better understanding of how precious the endangered orangutans are and the urgent need to protect them.

Through its conservation activities, Rasa Ria Resort & Spa has funded many joint conservation programmes and initiatives with the Sabah Wildlife Department.

The long road of rehabilitating orangutans for reintroduction into the wild takes up to seven years. Over its 50 years of operation, Sepilok has registered 758 individual orphaned or confiscated orangutans. There has been significant reduction in the number of orangutan admitted to Sepilok over the past 10 years, with only a handful of orphans coming into Sepilok for the past three years.

We are very very happy with the wonderful partnership that Sabah Wildlife Department has forged with Shangri-Las Rasa Ria Resort & Spa for the past 20 years, helping orangutan conservation by increasing awareness to the plight of the orangutan in Sabah to Sabahans and our overseas visitors as well. From this programme, many important programmes were able to be funded in Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation

Centre as well as throughout Sabah. One fantastic programme was the setting up of the Wildlife Rescue Unit. The Wildlife Rescue Unit, functions as a mobile team of dedicated rangers and vets with conservation at heart, said William Baya, director of the Sabah Wildlife Department.

We are grateful to have had the help and guidance of the Sabah Wildlife Department for our nature activities and will continue to support where we can their conservation activities, said Reynolds.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary this summer, Rasa Ria Resort & Spa is expanding its conservation related activities for guests. The Nature Reserve offers immense biodiversity and stunning vistas of the sea and rainforest from Pantai Dalit viewpoint. More resources are being focused on this 64-acre Nature Reserve to

enhance activities for resort guests such as the existing canopy and night walks and to add new ones highlighting the opportunities to enjoy unique nature, culture and adventure experiences at Rasa Ria Resort & Spa.