The Orangutan and Pygmy Elephant Reservation

Explore Borneo's lush rainforest in search of wild orangutan and the rare pygmy elephant!

Based in the mystical Lower Kinabatangan Floodplain Rainforest in Sabah, this orangutan project completely encompasses the awe-inspiring diversity and dynamism of Borneo's wildlife. The area in which you will be volunteering is situated within WWF's protected 'Corridor of Life', a region of enormous importance in balancing land-development and the needs of its indigenous communities and wildlife.

About the Project

This project allows complete immersion into the natural wonder of the unique habitat, aiming to work on the reforestation of the environment, to help orangutans and pygmy elephants in Borneo to thrive. As a volunteer you will stay in the small village of Sukau for the duration of the project, a rural, indigenous community with a population of approximately just 1,000. The charming, hospitable 'Orang Sungai' ('People of the River'), are always keen to share their way of life and welcome guests into their community. In return, you will assist with educating the local population on the importance of conservation and implementing more sustainable ways of living. The main part of the programme will be centred on activities in and around Sukau village or along the Kinabatangan River, but you will also spend time working with the project staff, assisting with wildlife monitoring through river-cruises and rainforest-treks. As well as orangutans and pygmy elephants, the orangutan wildlife sanctuary in which the project is based is also home to gibbons and hornbills - making it a wildlife-spotting haven. Towards the end of the programme, volunteers have the chance to visit the world-famous Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, and experience more of the incredible work undertaken by this project.

Prior to Arrival

The nearest airport to the Sabah region is Sandakan International (SDK) and you must arrive between 7am - 5pm on the project start date where you will be met and transferred (included in the price of the project) to the temporary accommodation which will take roughly 1.5 to 2 hours.

First Days

Arrive at Sandakan International Airport (SDK) and transfer to temporary accommodation, where you will have a welcome dinner & introduction.
The next day, you will be heading over to Sukau Village and settle into your accommodation in twin share rooms in the village B&B. You will also get the chance to meet some of the local villagers and explore the area.

Regular Days

After a thorough introduction to the Corridor of Life (which cultivates most of the area’s species) and the importance of the conservation work carried out on this project, volunteers travel to the Lower Kinabatangan Floodplain Rainforest in Sabah. The wildlife sanctuary that is the project site, is home to singing gibbons, orang-utans, proboscis monkeys, sun bears, hornbills and the rare pygmy elephant, as well as a host of other magnificent wildlife. 
During the project you will learn about orangutans within the rehabilitation stage and also come to understand the process of releasing them back to the wild. Through this you will recognise and compare these situations with that of captive animals, and those with threatened habitats. The principal focus of the project is to work towards the conservation of the orangutans and pygmy elephants in Borneo. This is achieved mainly through monitoring their numbers and patterns, as well as those of other animals in the habitat. In order to see as much wildlife as possible, some of the monitoring/data collection will be conducted from a boat whilst cruising along the main river and it's tributaries to observe the endangered wildlife roaming the forest along the river banks. You will be taken on numerous treks so as to spot an extensive range of flora and fauna inland, as well as learn about the mysterious rainforests of Sabah. 
Another essentially important method of preserving the local environment is through reforestation. Part of your time will therefore be spent planting new trees and tending to the pygmy elephant and orangutan habitat so as to help their numbers slowly increase. Doing so is a vital part of the crusade to ensure the survival of these unique and magnificent animals.
As a volunteer you will also work with the welcoming and friendly community of the 'Orang Sungai', living along the river bank. Educating the community and providing them with economic motivation for conservation is one of the best ways of protecting local wildlife and all volunteers will contribute to this education effort. There is also an opportunity to work with local school children, educating them about the importance of conservation for their home environment and way of life.

Last Days

The day before you leave you will depart Sukau and transfer to Sandakan. On the way you will stop at Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary to view the morning feeding session. After lunch you will visit the Rainforest Discovery Centre before heading back to Sepilok for the afternoon feeding session. After a busy day you will check into your accommodation in Sandakan for your night and enjoy a farewell dinner with your group. On your final day you will check out of your accommodation and transfer to Sandakan Airport for your return flight or to commence your independent travel plans.

Suitable for

Couples
Singles
Groups

Typical day

Please note that itineraries are subject to change and what follows is simply a rough guideline.

You will spend your regular working days actively taking part in conservation activities. These include wildlife population density data collection, cruising along the river to observe and record the endangered wildlife that roam the forest along the river banks, habitat restoration, spending half a day with school children of the community to work on conservation issues that the children deal with on a daily basis and emphasize their immediate and personal impact on conservation, working with the local people to emphasize the importance of conservation and attending many conservation talks and seminars.

Program Requirements

Minimum Age
18 years
Language Skills
You need to speak English (intermediate level)
Health Declaration
required
Other Skills
No specific skills are required to volunteer for this project, however a love of animals, strong work-ethic and ability to work in a team are vital.
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday

Do you have any questions concerning this volunteer opportunity in Malaysia? Volunteer World directly connects you with The Great Projects

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Free-time activities

Enjoy your freetime by going on to the local town and enjoying the surroundings.

Water Sports
Safari/Zoo
Hiking

Services

What's included?
What's included in the price of the project?
Airport transfers to and from Sandakan Airport (SDK)
Welcome dinner in Sepilok, Sandakan
Transfer from temporary accommodation to project site accommodation
Programme introduction in Sabah and orientation in the village
Entrance fees to Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary
Entrance fees to the Rainforest Discovery Centre
English-speaking programme facilitator
11 nights at designated accommodation
Meals whilst partaking in the project
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees.

No worries, Volunteer World supports you in raising funds, checking your visa regulations and travel insurance. We also assist you in finding the cheapest flights for your journey.
Airport Pickup

The nearest airport to the Sabah region is Sandakan International (SDK) and you must arrive between 7am - 5pm on the project start date where you will be met and transferred (included in the price of the project) to the temporary accommodation which will take roughly 1.5 to 2 hours.

Accommodation

For the first night in Sepilok, you will stay in dormitory style accommodation with warm showers and a western toilet in a traditional longhouse.
Whilst on the project you will stay in the Sukau village local B&B, in shared rooms. There is also ample opportunity to spend time in the homes of the villagers and join them for meals.
For the last night in Sandakan, you will stay in a comfortable and basic hotel in the town.

Dorm Room Guest Family Hotel
Food & Beverages

All meals and beverages are provided and are included in the price of the project. The meals are prepared by local villagers in their homes which offers a great opportunity to hear about their daily lives, chat with the children and see how they have been living for centuries. Some nights you will also have the chance to cook and eat as a volunteer group.

Internet Access
Sorry, no access at the project site
Costs
2 weeks (min. stay)
$1386

You can volunteer at the project site in Sabah/Malaysia between 2 weeks and 2 weeks. Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated and subject to exchange rate fluctuations. The Great Projects will tell you your final price during your application process.
Average Fees
$693/week
Deposit (15%)
The deposit is simply to reserve your volunteer placement. Payments are handled by PayPal, our trusted global payment provider. If you don't have a PayPal account, you can also pay using a credit card.
Final Payment (85%)
Your final payment will be agreed with The Great Projects during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.

Get ready to volunteer in Malaysia

Check out first

Visa Regulations
Depending on your nationality, you have to arrange your visa for Malaysia. Please check the visa regulations for Malaysia.
Budgeting
Generally, volunteering abroad involves certain costs. In case you need financial support, we will assist you to fundraise your volunteer program in Malaysia.

What's next?

Airport
The nearest airport is Sandakan (SDK) in Sandakan. We assist you to find cheap flights to Malaysia.
Travel Insurance
Going abroad is an adventure and it is always best to be prepared. Sudden illness or injury, cancellation or theft - a travel insurance for Malaysia provides security and is a plus to have.
Vaccine Checker
If you are intending to volunteer in Malaysia you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for Malaysia.
Packing List
Packing our bags is important to prepare your trip, but often turns into a last minute horror. Make sure you don't forget the essentials by creating a personalised packing list for your volunteer program in Malaysia upfront.
Borneo, Sabah, Malaysia