Work at International Animal Rescue's orangutan sanctuary on the rehabilitation of these great apes
International Animal Rescue(IAR) was created with one sole purpose: to come to the aid of suffering animals around the world. This involves the rescue of animals in danger and wherever possible, the return of rescued animals to their natural environment and the provision of permanent sanctuary for animals that can no longer survive in the wild. In 2010, IAR finalized plans to construct an orangutan sanctuary in Ketapang, Indonesia. The staff at this centre strive to house, rehabilitate and release orphaned or injured orangutans back into the wild. In August 2011, construction began on Phase 1, thanks to a £400,000 investment and the help of many volunteers. Phase 1 was completed in early 2013, and Phase 2, which will include many more orangutan enclosures, is currently in progress.
This orangutan conservation project is certainly one of the most ambitious and costly but is also one of the most vital in Indonesia. Although challenging and work-intensive, the completion of the centre will make an immeasurable difference to the conservation of Borneo's orangutans.
This truly is an incredibly rewarding orangutan project to be involved in, and as a volunteer you will leave feeling that you have actively contributed to the ongoing work of a remarkable conservation project. Please take some time to watch the video on this page, where Alan Knight OBE and his colleagues explain the inspiring work carried out by the staff and volunteers at this centre.
"I am delighted that we will be working closely with the team at The Great Projects and look forward to the Great Projects' volunteers helping us build a future for orangutans in Ketapang, West Kalimantan through their award winning volunteer programme." Alan Knight OBE - CEO International Animal Rescue
This programme is designed to support International Animal Rescue by helping with the build of a fully functional orangutan sanctuary and rehabilitation centre in West Kalimantan, Indonesia.
Please note itineraries are subject to change and what follows is only 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.
Select a duration below to see the available start dates. All dates shown are currently available for you to join this project!
IAR is currently using a temporary centre in Ketapang, West Kalimantan to care for rescued orangutans while they work to establish a permanent orangutan rescue and rehabilitation facility. Volunteers taking part in this project are vital in moving forward the construction of this orangutan sanctuary. Hard work and a positive attitude drives the work towards completion.
Phase one of the new centre is now complete with all the buildings operational, but the centre is growing. With the purchase of adjacent land to be used as pre-release islands and the ever increasing numbers of rescued orangutans, by taking part in this project you will be vital in expanding and improving the centre and continually moving it forward as a centre in which abandoned and injured orangutans can find a home, temporary or otherwise.
Alan Knight OBE, the CEO of IAR is very excited to be working with volunteers who take part in this endeavor through The Great Projects, and told us "I am delighted that we will be working closely with the team at The Great Projects and look forward to the IAR Orangutan Project volunteers helping us build a future for orangutans in Ketapang, West Kalimantan through their award-winning orangutan volunteer programme."
Thinking about volunteering? Or have you already got your heart set on the idea? Our travel expert Nikita is here to share her top travel tips!
The volunteer house which will be your home for the duration of the project is a locally-rented house near the orangutan centre site. This is shared with other volunteers, and provides toilets, showers and bed linen, as well as communal areas. There are also cooking facilities in the volunteer house where meals can be prepared. Please note that whilst this accommodation is far from luxurious, it is completely practical.
Three meals per day will provided for you during your time here. Breakfast will consist of cereal, fruit and tea and coffee, whereas lunch and dinner will be other pre-prepared meals. Please note that if you have a day off at the weekend you will need to pay for a meal in a nearby restaurant. Alcoholic beverages and soft drinks are not included, so you will need to make sure that you have enough spending money for these and other snacks.
This project requires a fairly high level of fitness, as the majority of the volunteer work involves physical labour in fairly high and humid temperatures. You will also need a positive mental attitude, commitment to the cause and its aims and have the ability to work well as part of a team.
The vaccinations you require will depend on your medical history. 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 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 your wellbeing as orangutan welfare.
That is not to say that 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 Ketapang 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 the volunteer house. On the first night there is a welcome dinner where you will meet all of your fellow volunteers and the project facilitators. Ketapang Airport can be reached via Jakarta and is serviced by Garuda Airlines.
If you would like help booking your flights please feel free to contact our flight partners via our flights page.
Your passport must be valid for a minimum period of six months from the date of entry into Indonesia. Entry to Indonesia will be refused and airlines may not carry passengers holding passports with less than six months validity. You are required to retain your arrival card for presentation to Immigration upon your departure.
In order to join this project you will need a tourist visa. You will be able to get one of these on arrival into the country of Indonesia, but please note that you may have to pay for this on arrival at Ketapang Airport. The cost is currently $25 for a 30-day visa.
If you plan to stay longer than 30 days in Indonesia, you will need to arrange a 60 day tourist visa in advance. The cost for the 60 day visa can vary depending on which Indonesian embassy you are applying through.
The currency in Indonesia is the Indonesian Rupiah. 1 IDR is approximately 0.00006 GBP, 0.00009 USD and 0.00007 EUR
If you have any questions about this project or would like help finding the perfect project for you then please feel free to give us a call or send us through your enquiry and we will be happy to help.
Nikita & team.
An amazing and rewarding experience that I will never forget. The centre is run extremely well, the people are welcoming. I learnt so much about Orangutans and conservation in general, very eye opening! I think the no contact policy is fantastic, as you learn why this is so important. We were very fortunate to see many of the Orangutans at the site, and many babys! The great projects describes the trip very well and accurately. I would definitely recommend everyone to just go for it!
Lauren Speakman, 2016
Impossible to single out any one part of the trip, it was hard in parts both mentally and physically but the experiences I had are priceless and though its a cliché, it has changed my outlook on life.
Lynn Hempsall, 2016
Seeing the developments that you have made at the end of the project were amazing. It was great to see how much of a difference you made. Also living in the town amongst all the local people was great, it was very exciting to be a part of the culture and experience something like that.
Stefanie Soumilas, 2015
The itinerary was great and it was great to see that our physical work was important to the project.
Maxine Lister, 2014
The project is run so well and I was fortunate enough to be part of the February group. We all put in 100% every day and by the end of the month to be able to walk away with smiles on our faces knowing we had made a small difference for these gorgeous orangutans. It was a magical experience and one I will do again.
Renae Dickinson, 2013
I loved everything about this orangutan project. I left Ketapang feeling that I had made a difference and knowing that the orangutans are in great hands. The work done by project orangutan and IAR is amazing and I'm planning my next trip back!
Kristi Smith, 2013
This is such a special orangutan project, being involved in the construction of such an important and enriching centre for rescued orangutans. I spent all of March there and I felt so lucky to have been able to work with such amazing people. The team at IAR Ketapang work tirelessly to provide the best care for the orangutans. This project isn't about spending time with orangutans (although you are fortunate to see them and provide them with enrichment) it is about establishing and preparing a sanctuary that can provide a good home and a bit of freedom (in the outdoor forest enclosure) for rescued orangutans. I had an amazing time and would 100% recommend this trip to anyone that is willing to get their hands dirty, work hard and to learn new skills and lessons along the way. If you want to see first-hand what your hard work has achieved then this is the project for you.
Erin Brass, 2013
What an amazing experience this was, working alongside volunteers and local people, all battling to provide a better life for the orangutan and knowing my money will help to fund a new, safe environment and my physical efforts will help enhance their world in between! This orangutan project is so progressive I can't wait to go back in a year or so and see how far everything has moved on… Incredible efforts, but sadly, so greatly needed... Well done IAR!
Ann Rankin, 2013