This multi-award-winning orangutan project based at Matang Wildlife Centre allows you the chance to get involved with the conservation and protection of one of the world's most fascinating and enchanting species – the Bornean orangutan.
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. 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 volunteers.
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 centre 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 and the centre's other animals.
Why This Project Needs Volunteers
Volunteers on this project will help to look after the injured, orphaned and rescued Orangutans which come into the centre. Due to the constant changes in the number of Orangutans in the centre at any one time, volunteers are always needed to help; create enrichment toys, with the husbandry on site, and with any new construction projects that need to be completed.
As a volunteer you will be acting as pseudo staff, so will help make up the numbers of hands required to cover the busy working week at the sanctuary.
Day 1 - The Adventure Begins:
You will arrive into Kuching Airport in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo, and be met at arrivals by a member of the team. You will then transfer to the Basaga Guesthouse in Kuching, where, in the evening, you will enjoy a welcome dinner and orientation with the project facilitator and your fellow volunteers.
Day 2 - Transfer To The Project:
After breakfast, you and the rest of your group will take a private transfer to Matang Wildlife Centre. After settling in, you will meet the rest of the project staff and take a full tour of the centre, meeting all of the resident animals, including the orangutans!
Day 3-13 - Project Days:
During these days, you’ll be involved in work with all of the animals at the centre but predominantly the orangutans and sun bears (see the ‘Activities’ tab for an idea of what you’ll be up to). Additionally, two consecutive days each week are free for you to relax or explore the local area and see more of what Borneo has to offer.
Day 14 - Fond Farewell:
This will be your final day on the project, and after a final activity in the morning, you will transfer back to the Basaga Guesthouse. Here you can enjoy a swim in the pool and a warm shower before joining a farewell dinner with the rest of your group and the project staff.
Day 15 - Final Day:
You may have time for a lie in, depending on your flight time, before taking a private transfer to Kuching Airport for your return flight home or to continue your independent travel plans. Wherever you're headed, you can be sure to be walking away with a lifetime of unforgettable memories!
What will I be doing?
On this project you will have the opportunity to engage in a wide variety of activities. Your main focus, however, will consist of providing enrichment and husbandry for the orangutans, sun bears, macaques, binturongs and other animals. Additionally, you'll have time to explore the areas surrounding the project - so why not see how you could spend your downtime by clicking here?
A major part of this project is creating enrichment. This is the process of providing the animals with stimulating environments and activities to encourage and promote natural behaviours. Enrichment enhances the potential for release as well as improving the lives of the animals at the centre. Existing enrichment includes anything from puzzle feeders to bubbles!
Husbandry for orangutans, sun bears, macaques, binturongs and other animals is an important part of a day’s work. This includes feeding the animals as well as cleaning the wildlife cages and enclosures - an essential part of any wildlife centre. Be prepared to get your hands dirty, as this can be messy work!
Small construction tasks allow the sanctuary to continue to grow, so as a volunteer you could be helping to construct aviaries, gibbon enclosures, feeding platforms in the forest, boardwalks around the park and ranger stations in the national park. The centre is then able to accept more animals and hopes to be able to rehabilitate and release as many of them as possible.
Over the past few years, volunteers have helped create an organic farm to grow food for the animals and to enable the centre to become a more sustainable institution. The orangutan sanctuary is determined that the farm remain organic. Tending to the farm has, therefore, become an occasional job for volunteers, but it is not a guaranteed part of your itinerary.
Volunteers provide crucial help with maintenance on the project site, and without the added manpower, the in-country team would not be able to continue their conservation efforts in the way they currently do. You may help with painting, cleaning, varnishing and gardening. There is always work to be done!
Free Time & Additional Activities
You will have two consecutive days off at the project per week; this is likely to be a weekend, but it could vary depending on which day you start the project. You will have most likely travelled a long way to reach Borneo, so we always suggest taking advantage of your free time to explore the surrounding area! Whether you're looking to unwind by the ocean or explore a little more of Kuching's culture, there's something for everybody.
Visit Semenggoh Wildlife Centre
During your time on the project, you will visit the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre, which is home to a number of semi-wild orangutans that have either been orphaned or rescued from captivity. Whilst these animals now roam the forest freely, they do come back to feeding platforms twice each day for a free meal, and it is here where you will hope to get a glimpse of them up close.
||Up to 12 People
||All Meals Included
||7 - 28 Nights
||5th and 19th of Every Month
||Minimum Age 17 (Or From 14 Years Old With An Adult)
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 and transferred to your first nights accommodation where you will enjoy a welcome dinner with the project facilitators and other volunteers.
There is no visa required for most nationalities to enter Malaysia as a 90 day tourist visa is granted on arrival, however, please check the Malaysian Immigration website for detailed information.
Currency and Exchange Rates
The Malaysian currency is the Ringgit. The conversion rate is around 1 MYR to 0.19 GBP, 0.23 EUR and 0.31 USD.
What's included in the price of the project?
- A Donation
- Airport Transfers
- Full orientation and support from the project facilitators
- Accommodation and meals
- All project activities
What's not included?
- Travel insurance
- Visa if required
- Soft drinks and alcoholic beverages
- Towels at the Wildlife Center
I have so many memories, but one of my favourites was when two of the younger orangutans were playing with the water from the hose as I was cleaning their night dens. They were having so much fun splashing and playing, just like little children! The orangutans will always have a special place in my heart but the sun bears, gibbons, birds and macaques were so incredible to be around too, each animal having their own quirks and personalities. The staff were amazing and so dedicated to the animals. It is sad that centres like this need to be around, but I'm also thankful that there are so many people who work incredibly hard to make the lives of these precious animals as good as they can with the resources they have access to. I would recommend this trip to everyone.
I had many incredible moments, watching these animals every day, slowly getting to know their characters. I learned a lot. I would also like to express the utmost respect to the people who dedicate their lives to these wonderful animals. I have felt a lot at home and am considering coming back.
The whole experience was fantastic. Richard and Dom were both brilliant. They were kind, patient, fun and informative. Our safely and the welfare of the animals was their number one priority. I loved living nearby and listening to all the animals waking up from my bed. The other volunteers were all lovely too. I will never forget the time I spent at Matang and hope to go back one day.
It was such a great experience seeing the orangutans so close and getting a full appreciation of the amazing animals. I loved seeing first hand how much the staff and volunteers cared about all of the animals. We also went on a night walk with one of the staff, he had a great sense of humour and was amazing at finding wildlife!
I enjoyed every single moment of my stay. I miss the jungle, the animals, and the feeling of doing something good to protect these endangered species. The staff were very professional and always available for us - they really do a great job there. They really contributed to making our stay a special and unforgettable experience. I can't wait to go back there!
From waking up to the noises of the jungle, to the waterfall walks around the jungle, or even the trips to Bako where you see the wild animals, they're all favourite memories. This experience teaches you about the importance of responsible tourism and how bad some organisations are to these beautiful animals.
Xavier Julia Torne
There was nothing quite like seeing the sunbears, macaques or orangutans cheer for joy when tossing wrapped leaves and nuts into their enclosures.
The orangutans were amazing. There was a real community feel to the trip as everyone got along so well!
I will never forget when a 3-year-old female Orangutan waved her arm and hand at me when I said goodbye for the last time. A highlight was being present at the release of a SlowLoris into the surrounding jungle.
I had a fantastic time met lots of amazing people and all the beautiful misused & maltreated animals now have a place to be at peace.
The whole experience was simply amazing and the staff made me feel like part of their family. If you love animals like I do, then this is nature at its best!
Met great people, made lots of friends, interacted with a wide variety of animals including orangutans, sun bears, macaques, binturong, turtles etc. Had some unforgettable moments in Kuching ;)
My whole volunteering trip was amazing! I just loved every minute of it. The project team was inspiring and my fellow volunteers were great fun. The animals were adorable, and it was incredible to watch them from a distance. It was interesting to join in all the activities, from feeding through to scrubbing the cages, and although it was sweaty and sometimes dirty work, it was rewarding at the same time. There were two truly amazing moments on the trip. One was on the last day when we were watching the feeding of the orangs. One of them really posed for us as a model, draping leaves around her head, showing her belly. The second moment I will never forget was after Michelle (fellow volunteer) and I made a bear swing. The minute we put it in the cage of the baby bears it was a big success! They were playing like crazy and lots of fun to watch.