Borneo Orangutan Volunteering and Conservation
Orangutan populations in Borneo are plummeting thanks to the illegal pet trade and deforestation – and this tragic trend is also extending to many other animals found on this tropical island. Each year, more and more animals are rescued and brought to this wildlife centre to recover and live a life as close to the wild as possible. You can volunteer to help care for rescued orangutans, as well as other endangered species such as sun bears, leopards, gibbons and more.
The future of the cherished orangutan is very much under threat. Its habitat is being destroyed to the point where, by 2030, there are anticipated to just be small pockets of wilderness remaining. Coupled with that, orangutans are being taken from the wild at a young age and kept in cruel captivity as pets. In 1997, this orangutan rescue centre was founded to care for these displaced and abused orangutans – and since then it has grown to care for other animals including sun bears, leopards, gibbons, macaques, turtles and more.
Volunteers play a hugely important role in helping to care for the rescued animals. Not only will you get to work closely to hundreds of fascinating species, but you will also gain an amazing insight into life in Borneo.
What will I be doing?
Volunteers help with a variety of tasks at the project site. Examples can include, but are not limited to:
- Animal husbandry: The all important animal care! This task is essential and is done each day. Volunteers help with cleaning enclosures, preparing food for the animals and hiding that food around their enclosures. The rewards are amazing – watching the animals foraging for the food and behaving as they would do in the wild.
- Enrichments: Animals that live outside of their natural habitat often need extra care to ensure that they remain stimulated, healthy and happy. Enrichments are essential in this process. Volunteers help to create food and games that encourage wild behaviour – your imagination is key! This is one of the most important jobs that you will do at the sanctuary.
- Construction: The centre is constantly striving to improve living conditions for the animals in its care. This involves building new climbing structures, ponds, boardwalks, feeding platforms, bridges and more – all essential for the running of the centre and the dedicated care of the animals.
- Maintenance: Due to the harsh rainforest conditions, structures often need high levels of maintenance – they can rust, rot or get eaten by termites in quite a short amount of time! Maintenance tasks can include cleaning, painting and repairing.
- Conservation and sustainability: At times, volunteers will be asked to help with planting native species for food sources or general reforestation purposes. In addition to this, you will take a day trip to a nearby beach to help with removing plastic waste from the beach.
Working in a dynamic environment means that plans can change without warning, so flexibility is essential. Generally speaking, your working day will start at 8:15am and finish at 5pm, with a 2 hour lunch break in the middle of the day.
Whilst tasks are geared up for people of all abilities and no prior experience is required, it is important to have a good level of fitness. The tasks are quite manual and the humidity can be quite intense, so come prepared!
Accommodation and food
- Live on-site at the sanctuary in a shared volunteer house
- There are several volunteer houses with 2 or 3 bedrooms in each
- Each volunteer house has a communal living space, kitchen, toilet, shower and veranda
- You should expect to share a room with at least one other person
- If you are travelling as a couple, with family members or with friends, you will be housed together
- There is mains electricity in the houses and a fan in each room
- There is no hot water, so water is warmed by the sun
- There is no WiFi, however most volunteers get their phone unlocked and buy a local SIM card with data package
- You will be given a weekly food budget and will be living on a self-catering basis. The kitchen has a hob, fridge/ freezer, kettle and toaster
- Accommodation is basic in comparison to Western standards
When should I book?
Whilst late-availability is possible, we would advise booking as soon as you can to guarantee your ideal dates. Our projects are very popular and spaces can fill up several months in advance, especially for the months of June to September.
- Learn about orangutan care and conservation – and help to do both!
- Work alongside expert staff and local people to improve living conditions and promote animal welfare.
- Help with a wide variety of animals in addition to the orangutans: sun bears, crocodiles, gibbons, macaques, turtles and more.
- Live deep in the rainforest – a once in a lifetime experience!
Whyshould I do this?
Each year, many orangutans and other animals are rescued and brought to the centre to be cared for for the rest of their lives. The lucky few might have the chance to be rehabilitated, but most animals are looked after in an environment as close to the wild as possible. Not only will you be making a genuine contribution to improving animal welfare, but you will be helping to care for orangutans and many other exotic species.
This orangutan volunteering project is an ideal project for those searching for an amazing gap year experience, looking for jobs in animal conservation or simply looking to make a genuine contribution to conservation work abroad.
Fly to Kuching (KCH). You will be collected from the airport and overnight in a guest house in Kuching. The next day, you will be transferred up to the centre.
What is provided
- Before booking: Dedicated contact to discuss the project, answer any questions that you might have and find out more about you
- Access to your personal ‘My Oyster’ account – our online portal where you can find out much more about the programme and manage your booking.
- Met at Kuching airport and transfer to your first night guest house in a shared room
- Welcome dinner on your first night
- Transfer from your guest house to centre
- Shared accommodation at the centre and food allowance for food preparation
- Full training and all project costs on the project
- Transfer from the centre back to Kuching and overnight in a guest house
- Last night meal in Kuching
- Last night B&B accommodation in Kuching
- Return transfer to Kuching airport
- Donation to the project
- Pre-departure information covering medical, safety and programme advice
- Help and advice from our UK office before departure and whilst away
- Advice on visa and health requirements for project
- Local support in Malaysia from English speaking staff
- ATOL financial protection (if Oyster books your flight)
- Oyster Worldwide volunteer t-shirt
- Oyster luggage tag
On your return:
- Welcome home pack
- Certificate of Recognition (on request)
- References (on request)
What do I need
- A passport valid for a minimum of 6 months from your date of entry into Malaysian Borneo
- Insurance, we can introduce you to a policy
- Flights to Kuching (KCH)
- Extra spending money for souvenirs, snacks, drinks etc
- Any associated visa costs- no visa is necessary for under 90 days from UK and most western European and western countries.
- Funds for any independent travel