The Orangutan Health Project

A short or long-term volunteer opportunity to work on a long-running research project that studies the effects of medicinal plants on parasites in wild orangutans.

About the Project

The Orangutan Health Project is a unique and fascinating project investigating the special behaviours and ecological conditions necessary for maintaining the health of wild orangutans. The primary focus of The Orangutan Health Project’s research to-date is investigating and understanding how wild orangutans combat parasitic infections. Parasite infections can and do affect everything from health to reproduction and fertility, and ultimately survival. Understanding preventive and curative methods in wild orangutans will aid rehabilitation programs in the future to teach possible reintroduced orangutans health practices similar to those of wild orangutan populations in surrounding areas. This enables a higher chance of survival once the orangutans have been reintroduced to the forest on their own.

Due to the rapid decline of rainforest trees and plants each year, the Orangutan Health Project aims to facilitate rainforest preservation by unveiling the enormity of the importance of Indonesian rainforests through information obtained through our research regarding the healing properties of plants found only in the rainforests. The use or consumption of these plants is not limited to wild orangutans, but also applies to captive orangutans. At one point some of these same plants can perhaps be used in natural and pharmaceutical medicines to treat human ailment.

As a part of a 13-day volunteer experience at The Orangutan Health Project, you will perform various tasks necessary for the project's work at the time that you are visiting. Most of this will be field work carried out in the jungle, a chance for you to make a once in a lifetime experience where you can see a living, breathing rain forest which is one of the most beautiful sights of the world. To make it even better, you will be within viewing distance of the most graceful primate on earth (physical contact is NOT allowed!) - the orangutan. We can't put enough emphasis on the importance of our work. It will supply insights about basic science, public health, and wildlife conservation management and help save both floral and fauna. Possible research tasks in the forest include: Finding and following orangutans to collect behavioral data and/or faecal and plant samples, nest nest counting to provide seasonally varying estimates of the orangutan population, fruit train transacts to record the range of foodstuffs available to orangutans in an area, or locating areas with a significant wild orangutan population.

Social Impact

The goals of the Orangutan Health Project are amongst other to build a broader knowledge of orangutan health maintenance with an emphasis on parasite/host interactions, which will have useful applications for effective rehabilitation, conservation, and successful preservation of the species. Also, we want to improve the understanding of one of mankind's closest relatives, the human & non-human primate relationship, and most importantly, the health risks orangutans face associated with co-existence with humans.

NPO Status
Yes, registered non-profit organisation
Foundation Year
Contact Person
Victoria Wellock
Where can you volunteer?
What can you do?
Sample bottle prepping at research base Jungle Trekking A trip to the local market Main bridge in Bukit Lawang National Park vegetation Young orangutan during 5-day trek Motorbike ride through the backhills of Sumatra Baby orangutan displaying/shaking trees

Reviews of The Orangutan Health Project