Volunteer at the International Animal Rescue's orangutan sanctuary, working towards the rehabilitation of these great apes.
With its mission to provide aid to at-risk animals in the Ketapang region of Indonesia, the IAR Orangutan Project is a shining example of how hard work and compassion can build a conservation initiative into a vital, world-renowned success story. But while this orangutan sanctuary has grown from strength to strength, we still need your help to protect the suffering animals that so desperately deserve our positive intervention.
By becoming an orangutan volunteer on this incredible project, you will have the opportunity to work across all manner of important activities: from construction work and maintenance to the enrichment of resident orangutans, the IAR Orangutan Project provides volunteers with the opportunity to take part in a remarkably rewarding initiative, through which your hard work can truly make a difference to the conservation of Borneo’s orangutans. Please take some time to watch the video on this page, during which Alan Knight OBE and his colleagues explain the inspiring work carried out by staff and volunteers alike at this remarkable centre.
Words from Alan Knight OBE, CEO of International Animal Rescue:
‘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.’
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 place in which abandoned and injured orangutans can find a home, temporary or otherwise.
Over the last 11 years, the need for sanctuaries such as this one has grown massively. The development of palm oil plantations in West Kalimantan has resulted in this becoming one of the most heavily deforested areas of Borneo, and as a result, the orangutans have fewer and fewer locations which to call home. From 2004 to 2009 up to 43 orangutans were rescued in Ketapang, and between 2010 and 2015 more than 150 of the Great Apes were rescued by IAR.
This work would not be possible without the help of volunteers, as the work they complete at the centre enables the rescue teams to venture out and save many more orangutans.
Palm oil is the most widely used vegetable oil in the world. Little do people know, the cultivation of this product has caused a colossal, detrimental impact upon endangered species, as well as the rate of deforestation, climate change and more! Read up to find out more, and view a list of palm oil free alternatives!
A new species of orangutan has been discovered on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, and it is the first new Great Ape species to have been announced in almost 90 years! Take a look and learn a little more about this amazing piece of news!
The volunteer house (your home for the duration of the project) is a rented property set close to the orangutan centre. You will be sharing the house with your fellow volunteers and you will each get an individual bedroom to relax in. The other facilities in the house include toilets (traditional drop toilets), basic washing amenities, bed linen and cooking facilities where you will be able to prepare food should you wish to. Please note that whilst this accommodation is not luxurious, it is completely practical and will give you the chance to truly immerse yourself in the jungle lifestyle.
Two meals per day will be provided for you during your time here (Monday-Saturday.) Breakfast will be of the volunteer's own cost, whereas lunch and dinner will be other pre-prepared meals. With regards to breakfast, it is suggested to buy cereals, bread etc from the supermarket. 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 available but not included in the cost of the project, 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 hot and humid temperatures. You will also need a positive mental attitude, commitment to the cause and its aims, and 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. The Great Projects are not qualified to provide you with medical advice.
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. In addition to this, 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 well-being. With no consistency in their lives, behavioural problems arise. They also have a tendency to begin to trust humans which could be 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 well-being 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.
As this project is based at a rehabilitation sanctuary there are orangutans here all year round. Therefore, regarding wildlife, there is no optimal time to volunteer.
Weather, however, can vary a little. Whilst the temperature is consistant and it can rain all year round, the distinctive rainy season is between November and January.
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 (with a change over in Pontianak) and is served by Garuda Airlines.
If you would like help booking your flights, please visit our flight page and fill out the form. A member of our team will get back in touch as soon as possible with a suitable quote.
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. Visas are of the volunteer's own responsibility.
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. Please check www.xe.com for live exchange rates.
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.
It was amazing meeting the entire team and working alongside such dedicated people, whilst having the orangutans watching us whilst we worked!
Rebecca Barton, 2017
Interacting with the Orangutans while repairing the boardwalk or in Kindergarten and baby school doing enrichment activities was incredible, but what made the whole experience was seeing a small part of the real Indonesia - there were always smiling faces waving at us!
Ben Stephenson, 2017
It is impossible to single out only one memorable moment. The entire experience will definitely stay with me forever. I really hope to return someday!
Nadine Thompson , 2017
I loved seeing the baby orangutans in school and in the kindergarten! I would really like to thank my facilitators. Hery and Matt are the best team!
Sára Veszprémi, 2017
Seeing the babies in baby school and kindergarten was incredible. Matt and Heri are the best facilitators! Everyone that I met during my stay was incredible.
Nicole Tacconi, 2017
At 3pm every day the babies would trundle past in their wheelbarrows. The curiosity, togetherness and all round sweetness was an absolute joy to behold. My heart would sing with emotion.
Benjamin Smith, 2017