Wildlife Volunteer Interview: Michelle Cullen

Wildlife Volunteer Interview: Michelle Cullen

Posted by Sam Hopkins on 16th Jan 2014

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)!

Could you tell us a little bit about your experience of the project?

It really was life changing... I had the most amazing time and definitely left a piece of my heart there. You really do feel like you are making difference and are part of something. Since returning home I have been trying to gain more knowledge of the issues facing Orangutans and the many other endangered animals in Borneo.

What do you feel that you contributed as a volunteer?

Mainly my time and willingness to do what was needed. I met some lovely people and for the project you need to be able to work in a team- and to be able to laugh at things!

What did you make of the project staff?

I can't speak highly enough of them- they are all dedicated and it can be extremely frustrating on the ground- waiting for improvements and scores of animals needing help- but they were always there and happy to answer any questions- things they must have been asked so many times! It really feels like a little family- which is why people return again and again.

What was your highlight of the whole trip?

Wow... There were so many things...If I have to pick one it would probably be seeing a semi wild orangutan and her baby whilst at Matang. It makes you realise that we all need to do more to stop the destruction of their habitat- and keep them wild!

What were your biggest challenges?

Ha - There were a few! Certainly the physical side was difficult- we carried wood in to the jungle and it tested me- but it's a great sense of achievement when you do it. It's not all heavy work- you do clean the cages but a lot of time is spent on enrichment for the animals.

Would you return to The Great Orangutan Project or another one of our projects?

Yes! I am returning to Matang in June for a month and will also be doing the IAR projectin May. I highly recommend giving it a go!

It's great to hear from Michelle our wildlife volunteer and see her photos and we're glad she had such a fantastic time – we look forward to hearing about her time back at Matang in June and at the IAR project in Ketapang, Kalimantan in May.

We love hearing back from our volunteers, and any feedback is more than appreciated. If you would like to send us news or photos of your time on one of our projects, please don't hesitate to get in touch via [email protected]


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