- posted on Jul 29, 2015
- by Connor Whelan
The Great Orangutan Project has been awarded again!Read More
Volunteer with Orangutans on this award-winning Orangutan project at Matang Wildlife Centre in beautiful Borneo
This project, which was our flagship project and is now a multi-award-winning orangutan project based in the Matang Wildlife Centre, focusses on the conservation and protection of Borneo's most fascinating and enchanting species – the orangutan.
Due to mass deforestation, mining and forest fires, the habitat of the area's orangutans is depleting and under constant threat. As a consequence, the species is increasingly endangered. The Matang Wildlife Centre is a refuge for orangutans which have been left injured, orphaned or have been rescued, usually as a direct result of these threats. The centre works tirelessly to reverse this trend in a number of ways and is thoroughly enriched by the involvement of volunteers.
As a volunteer on this project you will enjoy the incredible rainforest surroundings of Kubah National Park as their own backyard, and work as part of a team alongside the local facilitators to aid the centre through improving husbandry standards, providing enrichment for the orangutans and assisting with construction tasks. This allows the Sarawak Forestry Corporation (who manage the centre which is owned by the Sarawak government) to concentrate on rehabilitation of the orang-utans, the centre's other animals, and thus further their conservation.
Taking part in this orangutan volunteer project allows you to actively participate in the efforts of the impressive Matang Wildlife Centre and its fantastic team and help to improve the lives of the orang-utans; all whilst working towards their future protection.
On this project you will have the opportunity to engage in a wide variety of activities. Your main focus, however, will consist of providing enrichment and husbandry for the orangutans, sun bears, macaques, binturongs and other animals.
Please note itineraries are subject to change and what follows is simply a rough guideline.
To secure a place on this project a deposit of £195 is required at the time of booking, with the remaining balance due any time up to 60 days prior to your start date.
The Great Orangutan Projects' overall goal is to work with the Sarawak Forestry Corporation towards genetically sustainable orangutan populations in large, well-protected habitats to secure the long term future of the species in Sarawak. All volunteers are therefore vital for both funding and actively helping with the work undertaken at the Matang Wildlife Centre.
The sanctuary's team is made up of members of the local community who are employed to work at the centre both with the animals and the volunteers. Volunteers focus on aiding the Matang Wildlife Centre through improving husbandry standards, providing enrichment and assisting with the on-going construction work, allowing SFC to concentrate on rehabilitation and wider conservation efforts.
Everyone involved with the Matang Wildlife Centre is dedicated to managing and promoting truly responsible tourism and volunteering experiences that work in the best interests of the animals and environment - something The Great Projects is also passionate about.
The Great Orangutan Project has been awarded again!Read More
If you've been looking at one of our projects or just wondering in general what volunteers actually do on trips like this, then let Natasha talk you through a day in the life of a Great Orangutan Project Volunteer.Read More
Matang Wildlife Centre provides ten houses for staff and volunteers to live in. Each house has two or three bedrooms, a communal living space, kitchen, toilet, shower and veranda area. There is a maximum of four to a house and rooms are based on twin-sharing. The houses feature mains electricity and a fan in each room. There are also showers, but please be aware there is no hot water. These are self-catered with basic kitchen appliances such as a gas hob (two-ring burner), fridge/freezer, kettle and toaster.
These wooden houses are original structures from the construction of the centre in 1997. They are government owned and have undergone precious little maintenance over their years of wear and tear in the jungle. Please do not expect shiny, new and pristine lodgings – expect well-used, jungle cabins and an authentic Bornean experience!
Meals and beverages are prepared by volunteers in the kitchen of the self-catered houses. As part of the cost of the project you will receive a daily allowance for food and water and weekly supermarket trips are also included!
We do also offer a catered option if you would prefer whereby 3 meals a day are provided at the wildlife centre. This does however incur an additional cost of £50 for a 2 week stay and £100 for a 4 week stay. We can only cater for up to 6 people per trip so please book early if you would like this option.
The construction work undertaken at this Borneo Orangutan Sanctuary does involve physical labour, often in humid conditions, and so requires you to have a moderate level of fitness. The other tasks however are not particularly physically strenuous, but a fair level of fitness is advised. You do not need any specific skills or experience, just a commitment to the project and its aims, the ability to work as part of a team and an upbeat, positive attitude as an orangutan volunteer.
The vaccinations required will depend on the medical history of each volunteer. We recommend that you consult your GP regarding your own immunisation needs. In conjunction with this, we would also recommend that you check Fit for Travel’s website.
We are often asked whether or not volunteers will have the chance to touch or play with the orangutans whilst on this project. Our answer to this question is, and will always be no, and this is for good reason.
Orangutans are highly susceptible to human diseases and something as minor as the common cold can prove fatal to these Great Apes. Also an environment of constant change, with new volunteers going to the project every two or four weeks and being in contact with the orangutans would be very detrimental to the Orangutans wellbeing. With no consistency in their lives behavioural problems arise. They also have a tendency to begin to trust humans which is damaging should they be released back into the wild, as they will become easy targets for poachers. Finally, an orangutan is around 7 times stronger than an adult male human so a no contact policy is just as crucial for volunteer wellbeing as orangutan welfare.
That is not to say that as a volunteer you will have no interaction with the orangutans, it simply means that you will have no direct contact with them. You will still observe them on a daily basis and see how your contribution to their husbandry and enrichment makes a real difference in these great apes’ lives. For more information please view our article on hands on contact with orangutans here.
You will need to arrive at Kuching Airport on the start date of your project between 7am and 5pm, where you will be met by a project representative in the arrivals hall and transferred by road to your first nights accommodation. On the first night there is a welcome dinner where you will meet all of your fellow volunteers and the project facilitators. Once you have booked this project we recommend that you start to research your flight options immediately as prices can vary wildly and they can get expensive the closer you get to your departure date.
On the final day of your project you will need to book a flight out of Kuching Airport, between 7am and 5pm or commence your independent travel plans.
If you would like help booking your flights please feel free to contact our flight partners via our flights page.
There is no visa required for most nationalities to enter Malaysia. Please do however check the Malaysian Immigration website for detailed information.
The Malaysian currency is the Ringgit. The conversion rate is around 1 MYR to 0.19 GBP, 0.23 EUR and 0.31 USD.
Marsha Warden, 2015
Krista Jackson, 2014
Geoffrey Forster, 2014
Lisa Dostine, 2013
Jennifer Ravat, 2013
Sinead O'Mahoney, 2013
Deborah McCracken, 2013
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