Get hands on in our center, working to improve the lives of orangutans and rehabilitate them for a life in the wilderness!
This program, which was our flagship program is now a multi-award-winning orangutan volunteer program 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 Program
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 program 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 prorgam 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.
This Programs' overall goal is to work with the Sarawak Forestry Corporation towards genetically sustainable orangutan populations in large, well-protected habitats to secure the long term future of the species in Sarawak. Your contribution is therefore vital for both funding and actively helping with the work undertaken at Matang Wildlife Centre.
Everyone involved with the Matang Wildlife Centre is dedicated to managing and promoting truly responsible tourism and volunteering experiences that work in the best interests of the animals and environment.
You will need to arrive at Kuching Airport on the start date of your program between 7am and 5pm, where you will be met by a program 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 program 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.
The work on typical working days varies depending on the season and on how many volunteers are on site. Typical tasks are:
A major part of this program 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 program 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 tasks can also be part of this program as it is through these that the centre can continue to grow. The centre is then able to accept more animals and hope to be able to rehabilitate and release as many as possible. 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.
Over the past few years volunteers have helped create an organic farm to grow food for the animals at the centre to enable it to become a more sustainable institution. The orangutan sanctuary is determined that the farm remain organic and though many people keep recommending a whole host of chemicals for keeping the weeds at bay, they continue to rely on the efforts of volunteers to keep it under control. The program staff feel it is definitely a realisable dream to have this and other orangutan centres organically grow all the food they need to keep their animals alive and healthy. Tending to the farm has, therefore, become a regular job for the volunteers.
As you can imagine maintenance is an on-going task and so you may be needed to help with painting, cleaning, varnishing and gardening and there is always work to be done!
The day before you leave the program 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 program 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 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!