Borneo’s Animal Sanctuaries

Borneo felt like quite a big trip and very varied. From city life to jungle wildlife and being up close to the Proboscis monkeys. It was an educational experience and a chance to see with my own eyes what we are doing to our wildlife, pushing them out from their natural habitats. Witnessing the reality with my own eyes and hearing stories from the locals whilst exploring the beauty of the jungle gave me a deeper appreciation and understanding of nature.

Needs vs Morals

Palm oil plantations cover the landscape of Borneo making it hard for wildlife to survive there. Some locals feel they have no choice but to make this a way of living as it is a good way to make money. My guide and home stay host explained that his friends were enjoying an easy life with good money coming in every month because of these plantations.

When you see what life is like for them, how difficult it is for them to enjoy simple pleasures you understand why they may resort to such lengths. My host loves the wildlife and made it clear to me that he did not want to move in that direction even though his children may benefit from it in some way.

Hope for Nature

Although some reaped the benefits of these plantations, we did find out that the Proboscis sanctuary was created as a result of this increased awareness of what these plantations were doing to the animals livelihoods.

Rehabilitation and Sanctuary

When you visit a place like Borneo Malaysia and realise the state is endangering their wildlife it is hopeful to see rehabilitation centres and sanctuaries for these beautiful souls.

If you want to help, volunteer or find out more click on the titles where you will be taken to each centre’s website.

For some ‘not too wild’ fun take a stroll through the Sepilok Rainforest centre. It is a beautiful space.




Always a tree hugger…I could live in or up one of these.

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC)


Bornean sun bears are the worlds smallest bears.


Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre

Orangutans are so very sweet and gentle and need of a safe quiet place to roam. They are known for their shy nature and being close to one was humbling.




There is a lovely trail to walk through at the Orangutan centre. I did not plan well and trekking in these sandals was not appropriate.


Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary

The Proboscis monkey was a spectre of authority, confidence and beauty. There were different types of monkeys within these sanctuaries. It was a humbling experience to be this close to them and seeing them do their thing. Amazing animals which we had to drag ourselves away from observing.










An Oriental Pied Hornbill





A grey Langur monkey


I assumed he was okay with me being this close to him. The Proboscis monkeys are so confident and were not interested in us humans.  I loved observing them. The way the alpha male or ‘King’ would make it known he was coming, running wildly, swinging his arms and jumping onto metal roofs,  making as much noise as possible made us all watch in awe. It was mesmerising. Obviously, it is sad it has come to this, humans having to give these beautiful animals a safe place to eat  food when they should be chewing on mangrove leaves in their own way and time.


Borneo’s highlights also include taking a visit to the Mulu caves in the state of Sarawak or  diving near Sipadan island (within Sabah state) which everyone kept calling one of the top spots to dive in the world!

Borneo Malaysia is not as small or as easy to get around on a budget as other parts of SEA. It was really exhausting to cover in two weeks and it would have been better to spend longer there. I learnt soon after this trip that staying in a country for at least a month is ideal as you get to explore as much of it as possible and develop a deep appreciation for the country and people you visit which stays with you, in what I hope will be always.

Travelling alone means TRUSTING. Waiting for my bus at a roundabout to leave Sepilok.


I loved that I was forced to trust, be patient and not worry about the ‘hows’ and this taught me that majority of time, we worry for no reason. You can worry about standing alone waiting for the only bus out of there or you trust this is how things are done over here and embrace the wait. It is such a great metaphor for life.

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Next Happy Light Traveller blog post: Brunei

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