Get hands on in our center, working to improve the lives of orangutans and rehabilitate them for a life in the wilderness!
This project, which was our flagship project is now a multi-award-winning orangutan volunteer project based at Matang Wildlife Centre. Here you can get involved with the conservation and protection of one of the world's most fascinating and enchanting species – the Bornean orangutan.
About the Project
Due to mass deforestation, mining and forest fires, the habitat of the area's orangutans is depleting and under constant threat. As a consequence, the species is increasingly endangered. The Matang Wildlife Centre is a refuge for orangutans which have been left injured, orphaned or have been rescued, usually as a direct result of these threats. The centre works tirelessly to reverse this trend in a number of ways and is thoroughly enriched by the involvement of the volunteers. Taking part in this project allows you to become a Borneo orangutan volunteer where you will actively participate in the efforts of the impressive Matang Wildlife Centre and its fantastic team and help to improve the lives of the orangutans; all whilst working towards their future protection.
As a volunteer on this project you will enjoy the incredible rainforest surroundings of Kubah National Park as your backyard, and work as part of a team alongside the local facilitators to aid the Boreno orangutan sanctuary through improving husbandry standards, providing enrichment for the orangutans and assisting with construction tasks. This allows the Sarawak Forestry Corporation (who manage the centre which is owned by the Sarawak government) to concentrate on the rehabilitation of the orangutans in Borneo and the centre's other animals.
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. The next day 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.
Volunteers help to build, wash, feed, paint, and enrich the lives of the orangutans, surrounded by the stunning landscapes of the rainforest and National Park around Mount Kubah. Whilst working at the project, volunteers get to know and understand the different personalities of all the orangutans at the centre, watch as babies go off to ‘jungle school’ to learn how to survive in the wild, and learn about orangutan conservation, and the future safeguarding of the species. To maintain the upmost respect for the cause, volunteers and staff do not make physical contact with the orangutans unless absolutely necessary, as this can lead to them developing an unhealthy lack of fear towards humans, and consequently they are liable to trust humans with bad intent once back in the wild. Instead, the project’s efforts are focussed solely on the successful rehabilitation and reintroduction of orangutans back into their natural habitat.
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 projects can also be part of this project as it is through these that the centre can continue to grow to be able to accept more animals and therefore, be able to rehabilitate and hopefully release more animals. 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.
The day before you leave the project after a final morning of activities you will pack 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. The next day, 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 or continue your independent travel plans.
The work on typical working days varies depending on the season and on how many volunteers are on site.
The working week is Monday to Friday, giving you the weekends off. As you will have most likely travelled a long way to 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 to strengthen local relationships and continue to aid human animal conflict.
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.
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!