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IAR Orangutan Project
Work with International Animal Rescue on the rehabilitation of Indonesia’s beautiful orangutansTweet
International Animal Rescue was created with one sole purpose: to come to the aid of suffering animals around the world. This involves the rescue of animals in danger, wherever possible, the return of rescued animals to their natural environment and the provision of permanent sanctuary for animals that can no longer survive in the wild.
In 2010, IAR finalized plans to construct an orangutan rehabilitation centre in Ketapang, Indonesia. The staff of this centre strive to house, rehabilitate and release orangutans back into the wild that have been orphaned or injured as a result of damage to their habitat, and other human intervention. In August 2011, construction began on Phase 1, thanks to a £400,000 investment and the help of many volunteers. Phase 1 was completed in early 2013, and Phase 2, which will include many more orangutan enclosures, is currently in progress.
This project is certainly one of the most ambitious and costly, but is also one of the most vital orangutan rehabilitation projects in Indonesia. Although challenging and work-intensive, the completion of the centre will make an immeasurable difference to the conservation of Borneo’s orangutans. But the centre cannot carry out all the incredibly important work required without the help of volunteers, who provide much-needed manpower and energy.
This truly is an amazingly rewarding and enjoyable project to be involved in, and all volunteers will leave feeling that they have actively contributed to the ongoing work of a remarkable conservation project. Please take some time to watch the video on this page (see the videos tab below), where Alan Knight OBE and his colleagues explain the inspiring work carried out by the staff and volunteers of this centre.
Please note itineraries are subject to change and what follows is only a rough guideline.
Day 1: Arrive at Kuching Airport. Transfer to temporary accommodation in Kuching. Enjoy a welcome dinner with the project leaders, and other volunteers. Volunteers arriving earlier in the day are free to explore Kuching.
Day 2: Visit two orangutan rehabilitation centres in the local area, guided by experienced team members.
Day 3: Transfer from Kuching to the city of Pontianak by bus. Passing over the mountains that separate the borders of Indonesian and Malaysian Borneo, cross the border at Tebedu interior road crossing. Spend evening in Pontianak .
Day 4: Take a scenic boat trip from Pontianak to Ketapang.
Settle into accommodation – locally rented houses close to the project site. After dinner, meet the rest of the team and some of the orangutans. In the evening, receive a detailed safety briefing and information about the project duties.
Day 5 to 27: Spend time helping with the construction of the new centre and work with the rescued orangutans currently housed in the temporary centre. There may also be the chance (weather permitting) to visit the centre's orangutan release site for a night, where volunteers will stay in a raised camp deep within the heart of the jungle. To get there requires a boat trip along the river, where you will have the chance to spot proboscis monkeys, macaques and even wild orangutans if you're lucky!
Day 28: Transfer to Kuching Airport for return flight or commence independent travel plans.
For more details on the specific tasks and activities involved in this project, please see the ‘Duties’ tab.
This volunteer programme is designed to support International Animal Rescue, by helping with the build of a fully functional orangutan rescue and rehabilitation centre in the middle of Indonesia’s lush jungle.
Volunteers work at IAR’s temporary wildlife conservation and rescue centre in Ketapang, on the construction of the much-needed, new centre.
Volunteers also take part in enrichment for the resident orangutans, providing them with food and activities.
The construction of the new centre takes much hard work from the volunteers, who partake in activities including laying the necessary roads through the project site, building enclosures, constructing holding-cages and erecting electric fences and walls.
The financial contribution from volunteers is also essential, and ensures that in addition to the materials needed for each construction project, there is also enough to provide local construction workers (employed through donations) and our own highly trained staff with an income. We know from experience that all a volunteer needs to be of immense help is a positive mental attitude and a committed desire to improve the life of orangutans.
What Makes this Project Great
International Animal Rescue's team is working in West Kalimantan to rescue and care for an increasing number of orangutans, some only tiny infants whose mothers have died trying to protect them, others fully-grown adults that have spent years in captivity, living in misery in tiny cages or chained up. IAR is currently using a temporary centre in Ketapang, West Kalimantan to care for rescued orangutans while they work to establish a permanent orangutan rescue and rehabilitation facility. Volunteers taking part in this project are vital in moving forward the construction of this centre. Their hard work and positive attitude drives the work towards completion – a centre in which injured and abandoned orangutans can find a home, temporary or otherwise.
Alan Knight OBE, the CEO of IAR is very excited to be working with volunteers who take part in this endeavor through The Great Projects, and told us " I am delighted that we will be working closely with the team at The Great Projects and look forward to the IAR Orangutan Project volunteers helping us build a future for orangutans in Ketapang, West Kalimantan through their award winning volunteer programme."
This project can truly achieve great things for the conservation of one of Borneo’s most iconic species, and with the help of volunteers, there is no limit to the good it can do.
What level of fitness is required to take part in this project?
This project requires a fairly high level of fitness, as the majority of the volunteering work involves physical labour in fairly high and humid temperatures.
Do I need any special skills or qualifications to take part in this project?
No special skills are required of volunteers on this project. However, all volunteers will need a positive mental attitude, commitment to the cause and its aims and ability to work well as part of a team.
What vaccinations will I need to travel to Indonesian Borneo?
Vaccinations required will depend entirely on the medical history of each volunteer. Therefore it is essential that you consult your GP regarding this issue prior to departure. We also thoroughly recommend that you check Fit For Travel’s website in conjunction with visiting your GP.
What is the malaria risk in the area this project is based?
There is a high risk of malaria in the Ketapang area. Therefore it is essential that you consult your GP before making a decision about prophylactics and other preventative measures.
What is the currency in Indonesia?
The currency in Indonesia is the Indonesian Rupiah. 1 IDR is approximately 0.00006 GBP, 0.00009 USD and 0.00007 EUR. For exact and up-to-date conversion rates click here .
“What an amazing experience this was, working alongside volunteers and local people, all battling to provide a better life for the orangutan and knowing my money will help to fund a new, safe environment and my physical efforts will help enhance their world in between! This project is so progressive I can't wait to go back in a year or so and see how far everything has moved on… Incredible efforts, but sadly, so greatly needed... Well done IAR!”
Ann Rankin, April 2013
“This is such a special project, being involved in the construction of such an important and enriching centre for rescued orangutans. I spent all of March there and I felt so lucky to have been able to work with such amazing people. The team at IAR Ketapang work tirelessly to provide the best care for the orangutans. This project isn't about spending time with orangutans (although you are fortunate to see them and provide them with enrichment) it is about establishing and preparing a sanctuary that can provide a good home and a bit of freedom (in the outdoor forest enclosure) for rescued orangutans. I had an amazing time and would 100% recommend this trip to anyone that is willing to get their hands dirty, work hard and to learn new skills and lessons along the way. If you want to see first-hand what your hard work has achieved then this is the project for you.”
Erin Brass, March 2013
“I loved everything about this project. I left Ketapang feeling I had made a difference and knowing that the orangutans are in great hands. The work done by project orangutan and IAR is amazing and I'm planning my next trip back!”
Kristi Smith, March 2013
“The project is run so well and I was fortunate enough to be part of the February group. We all put in 100% every day and by the end of the month to be able to walk away with smiles on our faces knowing we had made a small difference for these gorgeous orangutans. It was a magical experience and one I will do again.”
Renae Dickson, February 2013
Volunteers will stay firstly in a hotel in Kuching, then another hotel in Pontianak, before being transferred to the project accommodation, which consists of locally-rented houses near the centre site. These will be shared with other volunteers, and provide toilets, showers and bed linen, as well as communal areas. There are also cooking facilities in the volunteer houses where meals can be prepared.
Meals and Beverages
Three meals per day will provided for you during your time here. Breakfast will consist of cereal, fruit and tea and coffee, where as lunch and dinner will be more prepared meals. Please note that if volunteers have a day off at the weekend then they will need to pay for a meal in a nearby restaurant. Alcoholic beverages and soft drinks are not included, so you will need to make sure that you have enough spending money for these and other snacks.
Volunteers should arrive at Kuching airport on the 5th of any month, where they will be met by a project representative and taken to each of the sites and accommodations in turn.
Volunteers joining this project will need to apply for a Social/Cultural visa for Indonesia before travel. You will need to send your completed application form, along with all relevant documentation, to your nearest Indonesian Embassy and you will receive a visa for 90 days which will be valid from the date of issue.
We will provide volunteers with an invitation letter from our charity partners, International Animal Rescue, which they will need to attach to their visa application.
For help with your visa application please click here .
What essentials should I take with me?
• Passport, travel insurance and travel documents.
• Cash and a credit/debit card.
• Camera, charger and adapter.
• Small backpack for daily use.
• Shorts, t-shirts, flip-flops and trousers. Please make sure that they are t-shirts or long sleeved tops and not vest tops. Indonesia is a Muslim country so it is essential to respect the culture here.
• At least one pair of sturdy closed shoes. Gum boots can be provided on your arrival however should you need them.
• Suncream and aftersun.
• Insect repellent.
• Toiletries and a towel (though this can be purchased in Indonesia should you need to buy one).
Whats included in the price of the project?
• Airport transfers.
• Overland transportation
• Accommodation and meals as indicated
• All volunteering activity equipment
• Local guides
• English speaking project leader
• Conservation donation.
Whats not included
• All flights and visas
• Travel insurance
• Alcoholic beverages.
Name: Indonesian Borneo (Kalimantan)
Population: Around 13.77 million
Currency: Indonesian Rupiah (IDR)
Official Language: Indonesian, Bahasa Indonesia
Time Zone: GMT+7 hours
Country Code: +62
The Indonesian portion of Borneo, or Kalimantan, is the jungle-filled, exotic heart of the island itself. Populated with indigenous tribes and comprised mainly of ancient forests, this area of Borneo exudes mysticism and magic. Kalimantan is one of Indonesia’s least visited regions, which makes it an incredible destination to explore for the adventurous traveller wishing to trek through verdant rainforests, against a backdrop of rolling vistas, powerful rivers and majestic mountainscapes.
Indonesian Borneo boasts many other attractions, including the mesmerising Dayak Village, which provides a unique insight into the lives of indigenous tribes in this region, the breathtakingly beautiful Tahai Lake, the equator monument north of Pontianak and the intriguing Gereja Immanuel church.
The city of Pontianak is considered the capital of the Indonesian portion of Borneo, and is a truly incredible place to visit. An unquestionably multicultural and cosmopolitan city, Pontianak is situated in the most ravaging of natural environments – the delta of the Kapuas River. This makes for some incredible scenery, which can be enjoyed whilst exploring the endless intrigues of the city itself, most notably its incredibly presented and maintained city zoo.
The city of Ketapang in West Kalimantan is the setting for this particular project. A small, but lively city, it is located in the stunningly picturesque delta of the Pawan River. Ketapang is surprisingly diverse given its remote location, and is populated by many minorities that infuse its culture with varied and fascinating influences. It is easy to visit Ketapang as part of any trip to Kalimantan, and will provide another insight into life in this region of Indonesia.
Also on the doorstep of Ketapang is the incredible Gunung Palung National Park, which is home to an unbelievably diverse range of species, flora and fauna. This city truly provides the best of both worlds, what with a vibrant, cultural heritage and some of the island’s most stunning, natural phenomena just outside its limits. This is one of the most unspoilt and biodiverse environments in the world, and exploring its lush, verdant expanses is a truly unique experience.
Kalimantan has a tropical climate, with an average temperature of between 23 and 31 degrees Celsius. There is a fair amount of precipitation all year round, with a particularly rainy season falling between March and May, and a heavier one between November and January.
Average Climate and Rainfall