Malaysia Orangutan Experience

Traveller rating:   (4 reviews)
Unfortunately this project is currently unavailable.

Volunteer at a world-renowned zoo and spend 2 weeks on a pygmy elephant and orangutan tour in Sabah.

The Malaysia Orangutan Experience is a fantastic orangutan project and way to explore Malaysia, see its wildlife, meet members of its most rural communities and have a positive impact on the lives of the country's most iconic animals.

The programme begins in the vibrant capital city and hub of Kuala Lumpur, before transferring to Malaysia's national zoo, better known as Zoo Melaka. Whilst at the zoo, volunteers work closely with a variety of incredible animals, focusing mainly on volunteering with orangutans. The aim of this part of the programme is to familiarise those partaking with the wide variety of Malaysian animals and to help improve conditions of various captive species through enriching their surroundings, alongside trained zookeepers.

The second half of the project takes place in the stunning Lower Kinabatangan Floodplain Rainforest, which forms part of the World Wildlife Fund's protected 'Corridor of Life'. This beautiful area is home to orangutans, proboscis monkeys, sun bears, hornbills and pygmy elephants, as well as a host of other incredibly rare wildlife. The time here is spent living with the locals in a rainforest village, helping with the ongoing animal conservation efforts and habitat restoration. Volunteers will also spend time assisting and collaborating with community projects that emphasise the importance of protecting the environment.

The Malaysia Orangutan Experience is a fantastic orangutan project and way to explore Malaysia, see its wildlife, meet members of its most rural communities and have a positive impact on the lives of the country's most iconic animals.

The programme begins in the vibrant capital city and hub of Kuala Lumpur, before transferring to Malaysia's national zoo, better known as Zoo Melaka. Whilst at the zoo, volunteers work closely with a variety of incredible animals, focusing mainly on volunteering with orangutans. The aim of this part of the programme is to familiarise those partaking with the wide variety of Malaysian animals and to help improve conditions of various captive species through enriching their surroundings, alongside trained zookeepers.

The second half of the project takes place in the stunning Lower Kinabatangan Floodplain Rainforest, which forms part of the World Wildlife Fund's protected 'Corridor of Life'. This beautiful area is home to orangutans, proboscis monkeys, sun bears, hornbills and pygmy elephants, as well as a host of other incredibly rare wildlife. The time here is spent living with the locals in a rainforest village, helping with the ongoing animal conservation efforts and habitat restoration. Volunteers will also spend time assisting and collaborating with community projects that emphasise the importance of protecting the environment.

Husbandry
Husbandry
This involves cleaning cages and feeding. Orangutan volunteers rotate working with different animals depending on the needs of the zoo, the keepers, or the animals themselves. These tasks are vital, as better hygiene helps to prevent disease.
Enrichment
Enrichment
The idea of enrichment is to stimulate the animals, improve their living conditions and as much as possible, mimic their natural habitat. This involves tasks such as distributing leaves in cages for bedding and nesting purposes, feeding with special fruit for diet variation, behaviour observation, rope work and encouraging foraging.
Construction
Construction
Orangutan volunteers often work on small construction projects to improve the night dens and enclosures of selected animals. This may include assisting in building new exhibits and extensions to improve the zoo facilities, or improving existing exhibits by adding furniture or painting.
Education
Education
There is an education centre and library at the zoo. Volunteers are often asked to guide and talk to schoolchildren about the zoo’s animals.
Wildlife Population Observation - Sukau
Wildlife Population Observation - Sukau
Whilst at Suaku, a lot of time is spent observing wildlife in natural habitats, usually from a boat cruising along the main river and its tributaries within the wildlife sanctuary.
Habitat Restoration - Sukau
Habitat Restoration - Sukau
This involves tree-planting, nursery care and seedling generation, sapling maintenance, mulching & composting, clearing invasive species and also tree growth data recording. This is the most crucial activity in ensuring the survival of wildlife.
Education Programme - Sukau
Education Programme - Sukau
Volunteers will spend time with local schoolchildren to discuss the important conservation issues that the children deal with on a daily basis, and emphasise their immediate and personal impact on conservation.
Community Development - Sukau
Community Development - Sukau
Volunteers also get the chance to interact with the community on various levels, whilst continuing the development of a project based in the local village.

Please note itineraries are subject to change and what follows is only a rough guideline.

Day 1 - The Adventure Begins:
Arrive at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) OR Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT). Transfer to twin-share accommodation in Kuala Lumpur, enjoy a welcome dinner and briefing and meet fellow volunteers.
Day 2 - Zoo Melaka Orientation:
Transfer to Zoo Melaka. Meet programme facilitator for orientation and health and safety talk. Take a tour of the zoo and go shopping for food.
Day 3-16 - Project Days at the Zoo:
Work at the zoo from 08.00 – 17.00 with weekends given as days off. You will be working in a hands-on manner on a number of duties around the zoo, feeding and cleaning out the animals, providing them with enrichment and construction within enclosures.
Day 17 - Fly to Sandakan:
Transfer from the zoo to airport for flight to Sandakan, Sabah. (Airfare not included). Transfer from Sandakan airport to temporary accommodation in Sandakan.
Day 18-26 -Project Days at Sukau:
Transfer to Project Site in Sukau. Move into accommodation before health & safety briefing and orientation around the village. The project at Sukau involves wildlife observation, habitat restoration work, tree-planting, maintenance activities at high priority areas, community and education programmes involving interaction with the villagers and the students of the village school.
Day 27 - Visit Sepilok Rehabilitation Center:
Depart Sukau after breakfast for Sepilok to visit the Rainforest Discovery Centre. In the afternoon, visit the world-famous Bornean Orangutan Sanctuary - the Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre. Transfer to Sandakan and check into temporary accommodation.
Day 28 - Final Day:
Transfer to Sandakan Airport for return flight or commence independent travel plans.

Accommodation

The arrival night in Kuala Lumpur will be spent in a city guesthouse in either a twin share or dormitory style room. Once at the zoo, volunteers will share rooms in a house within the zoo grounds. The houses include bathrooms with cold showers, a kitchen with hob and fridge and communal area. During the introductory night in Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary, volunteers will stay in a dormitory-style room in a traditional longhouse. These will have shared toilets and hot water showers. Whilst in Sukau, the volunteer accommodation consists of a village run B&B in the middle of the village. Rooms are shared with other participants and have attached bathrooms with toilets and showers. The last night in Sandakan will be spent in a comfortable, basic hotel room in the city.

Meals and Beverages

Whilst at the zoo, volunteers will be given a weekly allowance for food and beverages that can be spent on weekend trips to the supermarket or in the canteen on site at lunchtime. Whilst in Sukau, meals will be prepared for volunteers to be eaten with the locals.

Fitness & Skills

This project requires a moderate level of fitness, as the much of the volunteering work involves physical labour in fairly high and humid temperatures. No special skills are required of volunteers on this project. However, all volunteers will need a positive mental attitude, commitment to the cause and its aims and ability to work well as part of a team.

Vaccinations

Vaccinations required will depend entirely on the medical history of each volunteer. Therefore it is essential that you consult your GP regarding this issue prior to departure. We also thoroughly recommend that you check Fit For Travel’s website in conjunction with visiting your GP.

No Contact Policy

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 two or 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 volunteer wellbeing as orangutan welfare. That is not to say that as a volunteer 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

Getting There

Volunteers should arrive at Kuala Lumpur airport on the project start date between 7am - 5pm where they will be met by a project representative and taken to each of the sites and accommodations in turn. You will also need to book an internal flight to arrive in Sandakan by 5pm on the 21st. Your final departure flight will therefore be from Sandakan.

If you would like help booking your flights please feel free to contact our flight partners via our flights page.

Visa Requirements

There is no visa required for most nationalities to enter Malaysia. Check the Malaysian Immigration website for detailed information.

Currency and Exchange Rates

The Malaysian currency is the Ringgit. The conversion rate is around 1 MYR to 0.19 GBP, 0.23 EUR and 0.31 USD.

What's included in the price of the project?
  • Airport transfers.
  • Overland transportation
  • Accommodation and meals as indicated
  • Meet and greet at Kuala Lumpur Airport and Sandakan Airport
  • All volunteering activity equipment
  • Local guides
  • English speaking project leader
  • Conservation donation.
What's not included?
  • All flights
  • Visa
  • Drinks
  • Private transfers that differ from those in itinerary
  • Meals and accommodation when travelling independently or on off days
  • Insurance
  • Personal items
{{ review.author.full_name }}, {{ review.year }}
 

{{ review.review }}

Response from The Great Projects

{{ review.response }}



Where you can go
Contact Info
UK Office
The Great Traveller Ltd,
3 Dairy Yard
Star Street
Ware, Hertfordshire
SG12 7DX
United Kingdom

Opening hours:
   Mon-Fri 8:30am–5:30pm
   Sat 10am-4pm

T: +44(0) 208 885 4987