Volunteer with Orangutans

To play your part in helping to save these endangered Great Apes, volunteer with orangutans in Borneo for a chance to aid the rehabilitation and release of our closest relative. Native to Indonesia and Malaysia, orangutans are currently only found in the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra or at a number of orangutan sanctuaries throughout Borneo.The most arboreal of the great apes, there are sadly now thought to be less than 14,000 orangutans left within the island of Sumatra, and less than 105,000 in Malaysian Borneo.

They remain critically endangered and much of the orangutan volunteer programmes we offer at The Great Projects strive to help counteract this issue and help to rescue and rehabilitate these magnificent apes. We currently offer six fantastic orangutan projects designed to assist in all parts or the rehabilitation and release process, and your work as an orangutan volunteer is essential in the overall goal of increasing numbers across both regions.

orangutans at a glance

Critically Endangered
Less than 120,000
Borneo and Sumatra

How endangered are orangutans

Both the Bornean and Sumatran Orangutan are considered critically endangered by the IUCN and this status looks unlikely to change any time soon. 100 years ago orangutan numbers were estimated to be around the 230,000 mark, but nowadays that number has dropped dramatically.

There are thought to be fewer than 105,000 Bornean orangutans left, and a tiny 14,000 Sumatran orangutans remaining. With the population suffering from a 75% drop in just 100 years, the rate of decline is unsustainable and the orangutans are in grave danger of ceasing to exist. Few other animal species have suffered a population drop as drastic as that of the orangutan, and that is why change needs to happen and it needs to happen soon.

Threats Orangutans are facing

Orangutans are facing many threats, and these include:

  • Habitat Loss – Huge amounts of the forest the orangutans once called home has been chopped down to make way for palm oil plantations and this has had a huge effect on the Great Ape. Since 1973, more than 30% of Borneo's rain forests have been lost.
  • The Illegal Pet Trade – Young babies are taken away from their mothers to become part of this vile trade. Estimates suggest that up to 1,000 orangutan babies each year are smuggled out of their natural homes.
  • Forest Fires – As recently as 2015 a huge forest fire decimated the forest in which the orangutans live. 200 hectares were lost at the Samboja Lestari Orangutan Project site alone, so this demonstrates how destructive these fires can be.
Fast Facts
  • An orangutans reach is longer than that of its own body! The Great Apes arms can stretch up to 8 foot from fingertip to fingertip in the largest males in the species.
  • In the Malay language (which is spoken in the area the orangutans live), "Orang" means person and "Utan" is derived from "hutan" which means forest. This means that orangutan literally means "person of the forest", which is a very apt name for these incredible animals.
  • Orangutans have the longest birth interval of any mammal on Earth. In Borneo they only give birth on average once every 8 years, but in Sumatra some females only give birth every 10 years. This goes some way to show why when female orangutans are removed from the ecosystem, the orangutan population can take a very long time to recover.

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Where you can go
Contact Info
UK Office
The Great Traveller Ltd,
3 Dairy Yard
Star Street
Ware, Hertfordshire
SG12 9BX
United Kingdom
Opening hours: 9am–5pm

T: +44(0) 208 885 4987

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