Earlier this year one of our volunteers decided that he wanted to get stuck in and really make a difference to the lives of the critically endangered orangutans. He decided to do this by visiting the Samboja Lestari Orangutan Sanctuary in Borneo. Sagar was kind enough to write about his time at the sanctuary for us, so let’s take a look at what he got up to!
What would you say was the highlight of your trip?
I think that the whole trip was a highlight in itself, so it's really difficult to pick any one great moment from my month at Samboja. One that sticks my mind most often though was the moment when I first made eye contact with one of the Orangutans. It was during a feeding session with the great ape, and the emotion that was running through me at that point was just immense. The eyes of the Orangutans say a lot about how similar they are to us humans, and for me it felt like we just connected.
That moment was filled with emotions and it was simply breath-taking for me and made me realised just what a wonderful and eye opening experience I was about to have. To make a long story shorter, feeding time was always what I looked forward to every day :)
Creating different enrichment for the Orangutans was also fun. I especially loved giving them the magazine enrichment where they flipped through the magazines as if they were reading each page with contempt. Those were just priceless!
Would you like to venture back to the project or even take on some new volunteering trips?
Absolutely! I am already looking forward to getting back to the project and to seeing the progress that has been made. I have also started looking into the Raja Ampat Marine Conservation Project and will perhaps to do that in 2017!
Did you have a favourite orangutan?
That has got to be Romeo. Romeo was one of a kind and I really loved him even though he was not a big fan of me! :D. We would meet Romeo in the mornings during cage cleaning and feeding, and as he was an Alpha male he was always unsure of my presence. He never reacted when I was around as he could sense that there was another male in the vicinity and he wanted to be king of the castle!
Do you have any expert tips for new travellers?
Definitely bring your insect repellent, a good pair of gum boots, and some sturdy walking boots! Other than that, just come with an open minded approach because you're going to have an amazing time with amazing people :)
Did the trip inspire you to help with animal conservation in any other way?
I think what Samboja and the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation are doing is fantastic and unheard of before. Having always been fascinated with Orangutans since I was first exposed to the danger of Palm oil plantations, I have always wanted to work towards the conservation of these apes. The trip opened my mind in many different ways regarding not only orangutans but also other wild animals such as the sunbears.
Being an Indonesian volunteer, I was disappointed to learn that I was the first Indonesian to volunteer, showing that even we natives have limited knowledge about our own endemic animals. I am therefore looking forward to inspiring many family and friends and doing my bit to spread awareness of these issues.
To sum up, I would want to expand my passions and volunteer more often towards the conservation of our exotic and endangered animals. I also met and worked with an amazing bunch of people that inspired me to continue learning about animal conservation.
Why do you think others need to experience travel?
Travel is the best experience you can have. It's very simple. With travel you open your mind to wonderful things and experience things you may never otherwise have had the chance to. Travel shows that the world is such a fantastic place to live in and how lucky we are. For me personally, travel allows me to meet many beautiful people from different cultures and I love exploring that and sharing stories :)
If you want to travel to Samboja to work with the Orangutans like Sagar did, then book now as you can get 15% off the cost of the project in November in celebration of Orangutan Awareness Week.
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