Orangutan conservation in Malaysia and Borneo
Help to improve the lives of orangutans in inspiring locations on mainland Malaysia and on the stunning island of Borneo. Actively care for these great apes in a primate centre near Kuala Lumpur, before heading into Borneo’s jungle to observe them in their natural habitats
Get to know and care for some of the world’s most loved primates volunteering on this orangutan conservation project. The first part of this project strives to improve the welfare of orangutans kept in captivity, before going on to help maintain the orangutan population in the wild in Malaysian Borneo. You will spend 2 weeks on each part of the project.
Part 1: Work with orangutans in a primate centre
Your first 2 weeks on this project will be spent learning all there is to know about orangutans and their care. Work alongside the staff in a primate centre in a green and leafy zoo, located 90 minutes south of the bustling and vibrant Kuala Lumpur, capital of Malaysia.
Here you will make an important contribution towards improving animal welfare. Whilst dramatically improving, standards in Asia can be far behind the rest of the world, and this project aims to improve the care of these primates. You will assist with feeding, cleaning enclosures, enrichment activities, construction and education to ensure a better quality of life.
While the main focus is on the the orangutans and other primates, you will also spend a considerable amount of time working with other animals. This means that not only will you learn about and help the orangutans, but you also get the amazing opportunity to work with animals such as the Malayan sun bears, elephants, tigers, and many other animals you might never have even heard of before!
Part 2: Wildlife and orangutan conservation in Borneo
Next you will head to the island of Borneo to volunteer in the heart of the Corridor of Life, a vast swathe of protected rainforest covering 26,000 hectares. Volunteers play a vital role in tree planting and restoration to increase the population of orangutans and other wildlife in this area.
Alongside habitat regeneration, you will observe the abundance of wildlife (including orangutans!) from a boat floating down the Kinabatangan River and its tributaries. The area is stunning and heavily populated by orangutans, singing gibbons, sun bears, pygmy elephants and proboscis monkeys. Community engagement is key to this project, and you will also become immersed in community development and education programmes. Your trip will conclude with a visit to a world-famous orangutan rehabilitation where you will learn more about the challenges of orangutan rehabilitation.
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.
Accommodation and food
One of the highlights of this project is the variety of locations that you will be able to explore. You will spend your first night in a guest house in the heart of the vibrant city of Kuala Lumpur, before heading up to the primate centre the following day. Here you will live within the grounds of the zoo, surrounded by the calls of the wild and living in a basic yet comfortable Malaysian house. Cooking facilities are provided so that you can cook with your fellow volunteers.
During your last 2 weeks you will be living with the friendly community of the Orang Sungai (Malay for “River People”) in a simple B&B. Meals are cooked and provided by the local community, allowing you to really immerse yourself in the ways of the forest and the culture of the people who live there. All toilet facilities are western and shower water is refreshingly cold. Vegetarians, vegans, pescatarians and those with allergies can be catered for – just let us know!
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 both in captivity and in the wild.
- Work alongside expert staff and local people to improve zoo living conditions, promote animal welfare, and increase rainforest biodiversity.
- Experience Malaysia’s contrasting environments; spend a night in bustling Kuala Lumpur, live within the grounds of a working zoo, and stay in the forest amongst the local Orang Sungai, ‘the people of the river’.
- Taste delicious local food, home-cooked by the Orang Sungai people.
- Visit a world-renowned Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre to see these rare primates up close in their natural habitat.
Whyshould I do this?
We all know that the orangutan population is tragically dwindling. Deforestation and farming have had a huge impact on their numbers, and there are only small pockets of the world where orangutans can continue to live as they have for many centuries. Not only will you be making a genuine contribution to improving animal welfare, but you will be helping to redevelop that wilderness that has been blighted by years of human intervention. This project aims to create a sustainable future, where humans and the environment can co-exist- and you can be part of this exciting challenge.
Volunteers fly in to Kuala Lumpur (KUL) on the 5th of the month where they will be met and taken to a guest house in the centre of the city. From there you will be transferred to the Melaka Zoo where you will volunteer for 2 weeks. On 21st of the month, volunteers then fly from Kuala Lumpur to Sandakan (SDK). Again you will be collected from the airport and transferred to your accommodation for the next 2 weeks of the project. At the end of your 4 weeks you will be taken back to Sandakan airport from where you can fly home or onwards for further travel.
What is provided
- Before booking: Dedicated period of time on the phone or in person 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 Kuala Lumpur 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 the Zoo
- Shared accommodation at the Zoo and food allowance for food preparation
- Full training and all project costs on the zoo project
- Transfer from the Zoo back to Kuala Lumpur airport for your onward flight to Sandakan (flight at your own expense)
- Transfer from Sandakan airport to your accommodation in the rainforest
- B&B accommodation in the Orang Sungai village
- Home-cooked meals whilst with the Orang Sungai
- Full training and all project costs on the rainforest project
- Transfer from rainforest accommodation to Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre
- Entrance fees to Sepilok plus welcome meal and overnight accommodation
- Entrance fees to Rainforest Discovery Centre
- Entrance fees to sun bear rehabilitation centre
- Return transfer to Sandakan airport at the end of your trip
- 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 Malaysia
- Insurance, we can introduce you to a policy
- Flights to Kuala Lumpur (KUL)
- Flights from Kuala Lumpur (KUL) to Sandakan (SDK)
- Camera fees
- Pocket money
- Any associated visa costs- no visa is necessary for under 90 days from UK and most western European and western countries.
- Meals that are not provided on days off
- Funds for any independent travel
- A letter from a doctor stating that you are free from Tuberculosis and Hepatitis