How You Can Make A Difference At The Great Orangutan Project!

How You Can Make A Difference At The Great Orangutan Project!

Posted by Demi Georgiou on Sep 1, 2018

Hey, you! Yes, you…we’ve got something really great to tell you! If you’ve ever volunteered on The Great Orangutan Project or are currently considering joining, then stick with us as you’ll want to see this. We’ve been lucky enough to receive some pretty awesome updates from the sanctuary team and we want to tell you all about them, from new orangutan arrivals and construction builds, to beach day trips and even new-found animal friendships! We’ll even discuss how as a volunteer, you can make a difference to the many animals on the project (that’s right, not just orangutans!), including some new and exciting changes that are currently happening and are due to come up in the not-too-distant future! 

Enriching Lives

Volunteers’ efforts are always greatly appreciated by the team at The Great Orangutan Project, and whether you arrive with a varied skill-set under your belt or not, the extra help on-site is regularly needed to further improve the lives of the animals at the sanctuary. Thanks to the excellent help and hard work of our fabulous volunteers, the team at the sanctuary have been able to make quite a few changes, one of them being the ability to provide a good variety of stimulating enrichment for all the animals to enjoy. 

We have previously mentioned in our blog about the importance of enrichment to the sanctuary animals, how it benefits them and how it encourages them to adapt and use certain skills (almost as if they were in the wild!). If you need a quick recap, read the blog here! Enrichment plays a huge role in the animals' rehabilitation process, and it really does make a difference. There are many different types of enrichment that you could be involved with, from putting up branches, logs, swings or hammocks to making food parcels or games. So, when volunteers help to create enrichment, it teaches them to understand the species-specific benefits of each type of enrichment as well as what they are doing and why it is needed.

In light of this, the team have since decided to introduce a new type of enrichment for the orangutans - this is where big boomer balls are used and are filled with sawdust and non-perishable items such as nuts and raisins (you can see them interacting with this in the video above). This type of enrichment is slightly more challenging for the orangutans and as tough as it may be, it seems to be working very well so far! These great apes have thoroughly been enjoying it and can sometimes be occupied for days! 

Wild and Wonderful

Aside from new enrichment, we have had a few other special updates from The Great Orangutan Project that you might like to know about…involving orangutan play dates, two happy female sun bears, and a leopard cat release! 

Meet play-date buddies, Triton (1-year-old male), and Changau (4-year-old female)! Their blossoming friendship began more or less as soon as they first met, and unbelievably, they have been inseparable ever since! These two young orangutans have enjoyed spending many of their mornings playing together in the supervised nursery area (an area which has not long been renovated with the help of our incredible volunteers!). It is with thanks to volunteers, that their hard work in supporting the team has helped to replenish important areas such as this one. 

Triton and Changau The Great Orangutan Project

However, because Triton is quite a bit younger and is still in the process of building his strength, he is usually found spending his afternoons playing in a small tree, but don’t worry, Triton always remains under the watchful eye of his babysitter!

Whilst we are on the subject of ‘blossom’ing friendships...we have heard that the sanctuary's two young female sun bears, Blossom and Lily, are thoroughly enjoying their time in their forested enclosure. So much so, that they are spending the majority of their time sleeping…and playing high up in the trees of course! It’s lovely to hear that they both have integrated so well with the other three bears in the group and all happily snooze next to each other and play together in one big group!

Blossom Lily Becks Sun Bears The Great Orangutan Project

The last of our wonderfully wild updates finishes up with the swift and bouncy release of an adorable small leopard cat. Go, little buddy, enjoy your new-found freedom!

Leopard Cat Release The Great Orangutan Project

A Bright Future

In addition to enrichment and the many wild updates that have occurred recently, during the next few years, volunteers can expect to be introduced to a variety of new and exciting activities! 

Starting with plastic recycling…of course, we all know how much of an issue plastic is causing across the globe: washing up and littering beautiful, sandy beaches; floating by the bulk load in our oceans; causing (sometimes irreversible!) unnecessary damage to the innocent and vulnerable creatures of the world that call the ocean their home; as well as just generally being a nuisance to our lives!

Because of this, the staff at the Matang Wildlife Centre intend to save plastic waste by recycling plastic responsibly (plastic would otherwise be burnt or find its way to the ocean), so their recent solution has been to turn any unwanted plastic into fun climbing towers for the gibbons and monkeys at the sanctuary! Alongside this, the team will be taking each group of volunteers on field day trips to visit the caves including one of Malaysia’s many beautiful beaches. Whilst on this trip, volunteers will have the opportunity to assist with collecting and clearing plastic waste on the beaches they visit, including helping the staff in sorting through the plastic that they’ve acquired. Once this is completed, the staff will then familiarise volunteers with their newly invested plastic recycling machine, ‘Precious Plastic’. Volunteers will be able to see this take place over the next few months! 

Beach Clean Up Volunteers The Great Orangutan Project

In regards to the project itinerary, organic farming was once just an optional activity that would occur as and when required, but now, the staff at Matang can confirm that this activity will be back on the agenda! The staff have confirmed that a new team member - who happens to be an expert in permaculture - has joined The Great Orangutan Project! So, for those of you who are interested in digging, collecting compostable material from the forest and planting bananas, you can look forward to jumping on board with this activity soon!

We have also been informed that in the coming years, the Matang Wildlife Centre is expected to receive many more orangutans. Currently, as it stands, the accommodation is already bursting at the seams, so with that in mind, the current priority would be, of course, to build new orangutan areas. The process is already underway as volunteers have officially begun to clear a site for new night dens, including laying new drains and backfilling the site to ensure the foundations will be sturdy and ready to go! This project will be quite a hefty task, so volunteers can likely expect to be helping with various stages of construction work over the next few months, from cement mixing and wheelbarrow trips to painting and formwork. 

So, if you would like the opportunity to take part and assist the team including the many different, enchanting wildlife species at The Great Orangutan Project, take a look at the project page to join today!


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