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. 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.
Volunteers on this project are needed to help the conservation of the local wildlife, specifically the Orangutans and Pygmy Elephants, and this is done through wildlife monitoring, reforestation and spending time with the local Orang Sungai people helping to educate them about how conservation and economic growth can go hand in hand.
You’ll be helping plant trees, getting involved with teaching the local school children and observing the endangered wildlife along the river banks. Your time will be spread across many different areas during your stay!
Whilst the main focus of this project is habitat restoration, you will also take part in activities in and around Sukau village and along the Kinabatangan River as you assist with wildlife monitoring during river cruises and a rainforest trek.
As a result of the extensive reforestation work completed by the project, it is hoped that an increase in wildlife populations will be noted in the area. You will spend time cruising along the river and its tributaries to observe any endangered wildlife you see roaming along the river banks. This is also a fantastic opportunity to get some incredible photos!
As well as observing the wildlife by boat, you will have the opportunity to embark on a trek through the Bornean jungle. You will learn more about what the rainforest has to offer its inhabitants by way of food, traditional medicines and survival, and will of course be able to take the time to admire a range of impressive flora and fauna.
This is the most crucial activity in ensuring the survival of wildlife in the area and encouraging wildlife to return and thrive. You will take part in a variety of activities designed to aid habitat restoration, from tree-planting, nursery care and seedling generation to sapling maintenance, clearing invasive species and tree growth data recording.
Giving back to the community is a large part of this project, so most lunches and dinners will be served in the homes of the local villagers, providing them with the economic motivation to aid conservation efforts. This is an excellent opportunity to learn more about the Orang Sungai as they tell you about their daily lives, their history, and the traditions which they have held for centuries.
As well as spending time with the local communities, you may also have the opportunity to work with local school children, teaching them about the importance of conservation in their home environment and instilling a more sustainable conscious mindset - after all, these children are the future of the local community! (Please note, this activity is dependant on the school calendar.)
At the end of your time on the project, you will visit the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre and the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre. Here, you will get to see orangutans in various stages of rehabilitation and learn about the process of releasing them back into the wild. This will also be a great opportunity to see them up-close as you visit during their morning and afternoon feeding sessions!
|Group Size||Up to 6 People|
|Meals||All Meals Included|
|Start Dates||21st of Every Month (Except December)|
|Minimum Age||Minimum Age 18 (Or From 16 Years Old With An Adult)|
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.
If you would like help booking your flights please feel free to contact our flight partners via our flights page.
There is no prior 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.
The Malaysian currency is the Ringgit. The conversion rate is approximately 1 MYR to 0.19 GBP, 0.23 EUR and 0.31 USD
Alison Greene - 2020
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Rachel Blackford - 2019
Paula Titheradge - 2020
Alison Greene - 2018
Melanie Mullard - 2018
Rebecca Moldovanyi - 2017
Margaret Skelley - 2017
Emma Danielle Foster - 2017
Kathryn Ely - 2017