Volunteer With Orangutans

To play your part in helping to save this critically endangered great ape, volunteer with orangutans in Borneo for a chance to aid the rehabilitation and release of our closest relative.

Native to just two islands, Borneo and Sumatra, orangutans are currently only found in the rainforests of these islands or at a number of orangutan sanctuaries throughout 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. Here at The Great Projects, we offer a number of award-winning orangutan volunteer projects that work to improve the lives of those apes in captivity, as well as those that successfully release orangutans into protected areas of the wild.

Orangutans play the role of the ‘gardeners’ of the forest, helping to maintain their overall health through seed dispersal and making gaps in the trees to allow sunlight through so the forest can naturally regenerate. They face many threats from habitat loss, poachers and the illegal wildlife trade.

By becoming an orangutan volunteer, you can play a vital role in assisting to bring these incredible creatures back from the brink, so why not take a look at our orangutan volunteer projects and secure your place today!

orangutans at a glance

ENDANGERED STATUS
Critically Endangered
NUMBER REMAINING IN THE WILD
Less than 120,000
ENDEMIC REGION
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 54,000 Bornean orangutans left, and a tiny 6,000 Sumatran orangutans remaining. Population numbers of their newly discovered cousin, the Tapanuli orangutan, sit around just 900 individuals. 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 orangutan's reach is longer than that of its own body! The Great Ape's 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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