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!
On this project, you will work with both the local community and the local wildlife.
The principal focus of the project is to work towards the conservation of the orangutans and pygmy elephants in Borneo. By monitoring their numbers and patterns, you will be able to help the project team to understand the successes of their efforts. Cruise along the main river and its tributaries, keeping your eyes peeled for the wildlife species roaming along the river banks, and snapping some great pictures along the way!
As well as observing the wildlife via boat, you will also embark on numerous treks, allowing you to learn more about Sabah’s rainforests. Study endemic flora, observe native fauna, and take the time to appreciate the verdure of this spectacular habitat.
The local environment has suffered greatly over the years as a result of logging and deforestation. The area needs to be reforested if there are to be any hopes of wildlife species thriving here, and a major part of your time volunteering will be spent planting trees. The project aims to plant thousands of trees per year, so get involved and help make a difference to the lives of orangutans, elephants and more.
As a volunteer, you will also work with the local community, living alongside them on the riverbank. In exchange for them opening up their homes, you will spend time educating the community, providing them with economic motivation for conservation. Teach them about the value of their local wildlife, encouraging them to take on sustainable ways of living.
As well as educating 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!
During the project, you will witness both wild and rehabilitated orangutans, gaining an understanding of the processes of releasing them back into the wild. Towards the end of your stay, you will pay a visit to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, home to captive orangutans who may be in the earlier stages of their rehabilitation, or in need of sanctuary care for the rest of their lives. This visit will emphasise the necessity for projects like this one, leaving a lasting impression on all volunteers.
|Group Size||Up to 2 People|
|Meals||All Meals Included|
|Start Dates||21st of every month|
|Minimum Age||Minimum Age 18|
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
Melanie Mullard - 2018
Rebecca Moldovanyi - 2017
Margaret Skelley - 2017
Emma Danielle Foster - 2017
Kathryn Ely - 2017