King, Queen Visit ‘Didi’, ‘Taburi’ In Sepilok

SANDAKAN: The ‘Kembara Kenali Borneo’ royal entourage made its first stop today at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, which is located about 25 kilometres from here.

Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah and Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah as well as the royal convoy visited the centre, which is renowned worldwide as a sanctuary and conservation centre for the endangered orangutan species, en route to central Sabah.

Fine weather has facilitated the royal convoy’s movement and the entourage continues to receive a warm welcome from excited Sabahans waiting along the roadside for a chance to be up, close and personal with the King and Queen.

At the centre, Their Majesties fed a Borneoan pygmy elephant calf named ‘Taburi’, while a young orangutan received the honour of being named ‘Didi’ by Tunku Azizah.

The royal couple then signed a name plaque for the orangutan.

The King and Queen also interacted with the playful and slightly mischievous Didi and Taburi.

Their Majesties were briefed about the rehabilitation centre by the Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga, before making their way to Beluran.

Also present were Sabah Deputy Chief Minister III Datuk Shahelmey Yahya and Deputy Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Arthur Joseph Kurup.

Didi is a Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus), a species that is considered critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species since Feb 8, 2016.

According to the information on the list, there is no exact population figure for this species at the moment.  However, an estimated 55,000 Bornean orangutans were believed to inhabit 82,000 square kilometres of forest in Sabah based on a study conducted in 2004, a sharp decrease compared to 288,500 orangutans in 1973.

Taburi (Elephas maximus borneensis) is uniquely Borneo and the species has been on the Red List since Sept 18, 2019.

The Sabah Bornean Elephant Action Plan 2020-2029 noted that experts estimated that there would be between 1,000 and 1,500 of the species roaming the state within the period.

The 1,737.72-hectare centre located on the outskirts of the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve was established in 1964.  It provides medical care for orphaned orangutan infants and rescued orangutans.

Managed by the Sabah Wildlife Department, the centre plays a crucial role in wildlife conservation in the forest reserve.  It not only focuses on rehabilitation but also on educating the public and raising awareness about the state’s natural treasures.

In Beluran, Al-Sultan Abdullah will be briefed by Works Minister Datuk Seri Alexander Nanta Linggi on the progress of the Pan Borneo Highway project.  The entourage is also scheduled to visit the Petronas petrol station at Batu 32 on the Labuk Bypass. – Bernama

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