On this project you will have the opportunity to engage in a wide variety of activities. Your main focus however, will consist of providing enrichment and husbandry for the orangutans, sun bears, macaques, binturongs and other animals.
A major part of this project is creating enrichment. This is the process of providing the animals with stimulating environments, where they are provided with items and surroundings that encourage and promote natural behaviour. This will enhance the potential for release as well as improve the lives of the animals at the centre.
Another big part of the work on this project is husbandry for the orangutans, sun bears, macaques, binturongs and other animals. This includes feeding the animals as well as cleaning the wildlife cages and enclosures, an essential part of any wildlife centre.
Small construction tasks can also be part of this project as it is through these that the centre can continue to grow. The centre is then able to accept more animals and hope to be able to rehabilitate and release as many as possible. In the past, volunteers have been involved with the building of aviaries, gibbon cages, feeding platforms in the forest, boardwalks around the park and ranger stations in the national park.
Over the past few years volunteers have helped create an organic farm to grow food for the animals at the centre to enable it to become a more sustainable institution. The orangutan sanctuary is determined that the farm remain organic and though many people keep recommending a whole host of chemicals for keeping the weeds at bay, they continue to rely on the efforts of volunteers to keep it under control. The project staff feel it is definitely a realisable dream to have this and other orangutan centres organically grow all the food they need to keep their animals alive and healthy. Tending to the farm has, therefore, become a regular job for the volunteers.
As you can imagine maintenance is an on-going task and so you may be needed to help with painting, cleaning, varnishing and gardening and there is always work to be done!
Free Time & Additional Activities
The working week is Monday to Friday, giving you the weekends off. As you will have most likely travelled a long way to reach Borneo, we always suggest taking advantage of the weekends to explore the surrounding area - including Kubah National Park and Damai Beach, either by yourself or with your fellow volunteers. You can also look at visiting a long-house, meeting the Iban tribe, visiting nearby markets and social and interactive activities with locals and researchers. Interaction with the local communities is always encouraged so as to strengthen local relationships and continue to aid human animal conflict.
The below itinerary is for a 2 week project. If you are joining for 4 weeks day 14 will be day 28 and day 15 will be day 29. Please also note itineraries are subject to change and what follows is simply a rough guideline.
Day 1 - The Adventure Begins:
You will arrive into Kuching Airport in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo, and be met at arrivals by a member of the team. You will then transfer to Basaga Guest House in Kuching where, in the evening you will enjoy a welcome dinner and orientation with the project facilitator from the orangutan project and your fellow volunteers.
Day 2 - Transfer to the project site:
After breakfast you and the rest of your group will take a private transfer to the Matang Wildlife Centre Orangutan Sanctuary. Here, after settling in, you will meet the project staff and take a full tour of the centre.
Day 3-13 - Project Days:
You will now get stuck in with the project and take part in a variety of activities. These will include working with all of the animals at the centre, predominantly the orangutans and sun bears. For all of the details of what you will be doing please view the tab above.
Day 14 - Fond Farewell:
This will be your last day at the project so after a final morning of activities you will pack up and transfer back to the Basaga Guesthouse for your final night’s stay and a farewell dinner in the evening with the project staff and the other volunteers you have gotten to know so well during your stay.
Day 15 - Departure:
Depending on your departure flight time you may have time for a lie in or even to see Kuching one last time before you take a private transfer to Kuching Airport for your return flight home, or to continue your independent travel plans.
Dates, Availability & Price
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!
Updates & Outcomes
This Projects' overall goal is to work with the Sarawak Forestry Corporation towards genetically sustainable orangutan populations in large, well-protected habitats to secure the long term future of the species in Sarawak. Your contribution is therefore vital for both funding and actively helping with the work undertaken at Matang Wildlife Centre.
The sanctuary's team is made up of members of the local community who are employed to work at the centre both with the animals and the volunteers. Volunteers focus on aiding the Matang Wildlife Centre through improving husbandry standards, providing enrichment and assisting with the on-going construction work, allowing SFC to concentrate on rehabilitation and wider conservation efforts.
Everyone involved with the Matang Wildlife Centre is dedicated to managing and promoting truly responsible tourism and volunteering experiences that work in the best interests of the animals and environment - something The Great Projects is also passionate about.
At The Great Orangutan Project, staff have been struggling for space for the 15 sun bears they have, and sadly more and more animals have needed the help of the generous team and the kind volunteers. At the beginning of this week the sun bear dens were nearing completion, and now we are delighted to tell you that they have been finished!
Read the latest update from the team at The Great Orangutan Project, as well as discovering the aims and goals for the rest of 2017! The project's general manager, Natasha, is here with all of the updates.
Ever wondered what other animals you may be able to see as a volunteer on The Great Orangutan Project? Well wonder no more!
Is this trip for you?
Matang Wildlife Centre provides ten houses for staff and volunteers to live in. Each house has two or three bedrooms, a communal living space, kitchen, toilet, shower and veranda area. There is a maximum of four to a house and rooms are based on twin-sharing. The houses feature mains electricity and a fan in each room. There are also showers, but please be aware there is no hot water. These are self-catered with basic kitchen appliances such as a gas hob (two-ring burner), fridge/freezer, kettle and toaster.
These wooden houses are original structures from the construction of the centre in 1997. They are government owned and have undergone precious little maintenance over their years of wear and tear in the jungle. Please do not expect shiny, new and pristine lodgings – expect well-used, jungle cabins and an authentic Bornean experience!
On the first and final night at Basaga Guesthouse meals are provided in the restaurant.
Whilst at Matang Wildlife Centre you will be responsible for preparing your food and drinks in the kitchen of the house in which you are staying. As part of the cost of the project you will receive a weekly allowance for food and water and weekly supermarket trips are also included!
The construction work undertaken on this orangutan project does involve physical labour, often in humid conditions, and so requires you to have a moderate level of fitness. The other tasks however are not particularly physically strenuous, but a fair level of fitness is advised. You do not need any specific skills or experience, just a commitment to the project and its aims, the ability to work as part of a team and an upbeat, positive attitude towards the project and orangutan conservation.
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 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 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.
When is the best time to volunteer?
As this project is based at a rehabilitation sanctuary there are orangutans, sun bears and other animals here year round. Therefore, regarding wildlife there is no preferred time to volunteer.
Weather, however, can have an impact. Whilst it can rain all year round due to it being a rainforest climate, the distinctive rainy season is between November and January. Therefore, generally the best time to volunteer is between February and October. That being said, the 2 weeks from December 19th over the Christmas period is also very popular.
You will need to arrive at Kuching 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 your first nights accommodation. On the first night there is a welcome dinner where you will meet all of your fellow volunteers and the project facilitators. Once you have booked this project we recommend that you start to research your flight options immediately as prices can vary wildly and they can get expensive the closer you get to your departure date.
On the final day of your project you will need to book a flight out of Kuching Airport, between 7am and 5pm or commence your independent travel plans.
you would like help booking your flights, please visit our flights page and fill out the form. A member of our team will get back in touch as soon as possible with a suitable quote.
There is no visa required for most nationalities to enter Malaysia. Please do however 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?
- A monetary contribution to the project itself
- Private transfers to and from the airport
- Full orientation and support from the project managers
- Accommodation and meals as indicated
- Activities on the project site
- Food allowance
What's not included?
- Any flights
- Travel insurance to include cover for repatriation
- Visas if required
- Soft drinks and all alcoholic beverages
- Any additional trips undertaken other than in the planned itinerary
- Towels at the Wildlife Center Houses