Volunteers on this project will engage in a wide variety of activities as part of the project, mainly consisting of husbandry for the orangutans, sun bears, macaques, binturongs and other animals, including feeding and enrichment techniques which promote natural behaviours, enhance the potential for rehabilitation to release, and improve captive animal welfare.
A major part of this project is creating enrichment. This promotes natural behaviours and will enhance the potential for rehabilitation to release as well as improve the lives of the animals at the centre.
Another big part of the work on this project is husbandry for the orangutans, sun bears, macaques, binturongs and other animals. This will includes feeding the animals and cleaning the wildlife cages and enclosures.
Maintenance and Construction
Maintenance and construction are on-going tasks at the centre, and always require volunteers to help out. Past volunteers have been involved with the building of aviaries, gibbon cages, feeding platforms in the forest, boardwalks around the park and ranger stations in the national park. There is always work to be done!
Over the past few years volunteers have helped create an organic farm to grow food for the animals at the centre to enable it to become a more sustainable institution.
We are determined for our farm to remain organic. Though many people keep recommending a whole host of chemicals for keeping the weeds at bay, we shall continue to rely on the brute force of the volunteers to keep it under control.
It is definitely a realisable dream to have orangutan centres organically growing all the food they need to keep their animals alive and healthy. Tending to the farm has, therefore, become a regular job for our volunteers.
There are additional activities available such as visiting a long-house, meeting the Iban tribes, visiting nearby markets and social and interactive activities with locals and researchers whilst staying at the Matang Wildlife Centre.
The working week is Monday to Friday and you will have weekends off. For many people, this will be a once in a lifetime trip to Borneo and volunteers generally take advantage of the weekends to explore the surrounding area - including Kubah National Park and Damai Beach.
Please note itineraries are subject to change and what follows is simply a rough guideline.
Arrive at Kuching Airport. Transfer to Basaga Guest House in Kuching. Enjoy welcome dinner and orientation in the evening with the orangutan sanctuary project facilitator and fellow volunteers.
Take a private transfer to the Matang Wildlife Centre Orangutan Sanctuary. Settle in, meet the project staff and commence the volunteer programme.
Transfer to Kuching and check into the Basaga Guesthouse.
Take a private transfer to Kuching Airport for return flight or continue with independent travel plans.
Updates & Outcomes
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. Orangutan volunteers are 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.
This month we have been fortunate enough to get ourselves a skype interview with one of our volunteers from Australia: Owen Huw Morgan! Owen first travelled with us back in 2011 on the 'IAR Orangutan Project' in Ketapang, Kalimantan.
For this week's blog we have been fortunate enough to receive some photos and information from Michelle Cullen – one of our volunteers who took part in 'The Great Orangutan Project' at Matang Wildlife Centre, located just outside of Kuching, Sarawak. We were lucky enough to be able to ask her some questions – Here are her responses (and pictures of course)!
"Of all the animals that our projects work to conserve and protect, the mighty orangutan is closest to our hearts, as The Great Orangutan Project was our founding programme, where it all began"
Is this trip for you?
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 no hot water. These houses 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 hard ware 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 to be prepared in the volunteer’s self-catered houses. A daily allowance for food and water is provided however, and weekly supermarket trips included.
There is an added cost for the catered option 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 for this option.
The construction work undertaken on this Borneo Orangutan Sanctuary Project involves physical labour, often in humid conditions, and so requires a moderate level of fitness. The other tasks however, are not particularly physically strenuous, but a fair level of fitness is advised. No specific skills or experience are required, just commitment to the project and its aims, ability to work as 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.
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.
For help booking your flights please speak to your Great Projects' travel consultant who can put you in touch with our flight partner to help get the best flights for you.
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.
There is no visa required for most nationalities to enter Malaysia. Check the Malaysian Immigration website for detailed information.
Currency and Exchange Rates
The Malaysian currency is the Ringgit. The conversion rate is around 1 MYR to 0.19 GBP, 0.23 EUR and 0.31 USD.
What's included in the price of the project?
- A monetary contribution to the project itself
- Transfers to and from the airport
- Full orientation and support from the project managers
- Accommodation and meals as indicated
- Activities on the project site
What's not included?
- Any flights
- Travel insurance to include cover for repatriation
- Visas if required
- Additional soft drinks, all alcoholic beverages
- Trips undertaken other than in the planned itinerary