Work at International Animal Rescue's orangutan sanctuary on the rehabilitation of these great apes!
About the Project
International Animal Rescue (IAR) is an organisation dedicated to the rescue and safe rehabilitation of animals worldwide. Through this particular project, IAR have directed their efforts towards Indonesian Borneo’s orangutan population, which is constantly under threat from deforestation and capture by humans.
In order to attempt to reverse this worrying trend, in 2010 IAR devised a plan to construct an orangutan rehabilitation centre in Ketapang, in the middle of the Borneo jungle. This centre was to exist for the purpose of housing, rehabilitating and hopefully releasing injured and abandoned orangutans back into the wild. Construction began in August 2011. In 2010, IAR finalized plans to construct an orangutan sanctuary in Ketapang, Indonesia. The staff at this centre strive to house, rehabilitate and release orphaned or injured orangutans back into the wild. In August 2011, construction began on Phase 1, thanks to a £400,000 investment and the help of many volunteers. Phase 1 was completed in early 2013, and the first baby orangutans were moved into the centre in January. In 2014, the team at IAR, alongside volunteers, built an island adjacent to the centre, and this is where some of the more boisterous juveniles go from forest school to the next stage of their rehabilitation.
However, there is still a lot of work to do, the completion of which relies partly on the involvement of volunteers. This project is ambitious to say the least, but the work already completed has proven incredibly important in the rehabilitation of orangutans, who may otherwise have perished. The completion of this centre is vital in the on-going battle to keep orangutan numbers from falling in this part of Borneo. Volunteers are crucial in this process, providing much-needed manpower, enthusiasm and support to the staff and construction team at the centre.
This orangutan conservation project is certainly one of the most ambitious and costly but is also one of the most vital in Indonesia. Although challenging and work-intensive, the completion of the centre will make an immeasurable difference to the conservation of Borneo's orangutans.
This truly is an incredibly rewarding orangutan project to be involved in, and as a volunteer you will leave feeling that you have actively contributed to the ongoing work of a remarkable conservation project.
Prior to Arrival
In order to join this project you will need a tourist visa. You will be able to get one of these on arrival into the country of Indonesia, but please note that you will have to pay for this there and then when you arrive at the airport. The cost is currently $25 for a 30-day visa.
You will need to arrive at Ketapang 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 the volunteer house. Ketapang Airport can be reached via Jakarta and is serviced by Garuda Airlines.
Arrive at Ketapang Airport in West Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo where you will be met by a member of the team and transferred to the volunteer house which will be your home for the duration of the project. Upon arrival there will be a welcome dinner and orientation with the project staff and your fellow volunteers.
During this time you will be working six days a week at the centre and getting involved with a variety of activities. The work varies greatly month by month due to the unpredictable nature of what takes priority on a day to day basis. You can expect to take part in a mixture of the following tasks:
New Construction at the centre:
You will work at IAR’s temporary wildlife conservation and rescue centre in Ketapang, on the construction of the much-needed, new orangutan sanctuary. With the centre expanding, you may partake in helping to erect electric fences and mix concrete to make bases for new cages to stand on. Also the building of boardwalks and bridges to make access easier for personnel and new climbing towers and feeding platforms for the orangutans in the forest school areas may be required.
Due to the damp tropical nature of the area and the boisterousness of the orangutans, boardwalks and towers often need general upkeep and repair. The insides of buildings need repainting and cages regularly need their structural enrichment changed.
You will also be involved in the process of producing enrichment for the resident orangutans. This promotes natural behaviours and will enhance the potential for rehabilitation to release as well as improve the lives of the orangutans. Please note that there will be NO direct contact with orangutans during this or any other activity but you will get the chance to watch them from a safe distance enjoy the enrichment you have created.
Farming and planting:
To help keep the food bills down the centre is growing it's own local produce to help feed the orangutans. This involves activities from planting fruit trees and harvesting vegetables to making organic compost. As more land is being bought some areas of it need may also need reforesting.
All the cages at the centre need regular maintenance, especially in terms of changing the fixed enrichment of hammocks, ropes and tyres. The orangutans in the large socialisation cages can be particularly destructive and enjoy taking things apart. All new cages always need to be fitted with various items along with hammocks in all the night cages. You will often make the new hammocks and swings and fit them into the various cages.
After saying farewell to the orangutans on your last day of work you will enjoy a farewell dinner with the project facilitators and the rest of your group. The next day you will take a private transfer to Ketapang Airport for your return flight home or to commence your onward independent travel plans.
On your day off each week you will get to explore other areas of Ketapang. Hutan Kota is a natural park where you may get the chance to see wild proboscis and macaque monkeys as they make their way to the rivers edge to settle for the night. There are also local beaches where you can watch the sunset while drinking from a coconut. The town of Ketapang also has markets, a Buddhist temple and numerous local shops. You will also get the opportunity to visit the old Transit site, though no longer in use by IAR you can see what the centre has evolved from.
You will need to arrive at Ketapang 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 the volunteer house. On the first night there is a welcome dinner where you will meet all of your fellow volunteers and the project facilitators. Ketapang Airport can be reached via Jakarta and is serviced by Garuda Airlines.
On arrival you will be transferred to the project accommodation, which consists of locally-rented houses near the centre site. These will be shared with other volunteers, and provide toilets, showers and bed linen, as well as communal areas. There are also cooking facilities in the volunteer houses where meals can be prepared. Please note that whilst this accommodation is far from luxurious, it is practical
Three meals per day will provided for you during your time here. Breakfast will consist of cereal, fruit and tea and coffee, where as lunch and dinner will be more prepared meals. Please note that if you have a day off at the weekend you will need to pay for a meal in a nearby restaurant. Alcoholic beverages and soft drinks are not included, so you will need to make sure that you have enough spending money for these and other snacks.