The focus of this project is purely orangutan conservation and research. Enrichment, husbandry, organic planting as food source, construction, and maintenance of the sanctuary is the model norm of this project.
The project site is located on a 35-acre island nestled within a 7000-acre freshwater lakeside. It has progressed from being a sanctuary where visitors experience first-hand awareness and education about the orangutan, to a recognised ex-situ conservation facility and referral centre for the endangered Bornean orangutan.
The Orangutan Sanctuary site plays an important role in building local conservation capacity by providing exposure to visitors on various aspects of primatology such as primate behavior and its ecology; captive care and veterinary medicine; and conservation biology.
With assistance in expertise from regional primatologists and conservation biologists, the project aims to strengthen its commitment towards scientific research on the Bornean orangutan.
Orangutan Sanctuary is geared to serve as a temporary holding facility for those orangutans rescued from illegal possession and or trade before being returned to their natural habitat, with mechanisms in place to treat, care and rehabilitate those orangutans assessed unfit for immediate return to the wild.
Orangutan Sanctuary has achieved success and demand for its activities and programmes, attracting interest from, among others, universities from within Malaysia and around the world, for joint-cooperation across fields in education and research.
Orangutan Sanctuary serves as a centre for training, developing and enhancing the capacity of graduate students and young scientists in carrying out both in-situ and ex-situ conservation research and activities on the orangutan and its habitats.
Your Roles – General Information
A good level of fitness is required to participate on this project. The work is sometimes physical, the heat and humidity make this more challenging. There is a working schedule and plan setup for each participant. Please take note that you are coming to an operational rescue and rehabilitation centre, we cannot predict what may happen each day, potential new orangutan arrivals or any of the current animals under the centre’s care. Therefore, we ask the participants to be flexible and tolerant of potential delays or changes to the planned work as different projects may get reprioritized.
Patience is needed as you adjust to ‘Malaysia time’ – participants always come with huge amounts of enthusiasm and energy to plough into the project, which is a massive asset and positively impact on the sanctuary. You simply add a helpful and necessary piece to a much larger puzzle, and you should not expect the world of animal conservation to make great strides forward in the timeframe of your project. The Malaysian approach to work is also vastly different from the Western mentality. Therefore please prepare to embrace the cultural difference rather than display frustration and/or incredulity at the local labouring techniques and ethos.
Please remember that:
- If all conditions were perfect for the animals, there would be no on-going need for labour on the island. One of the reasons you are here is to facilitate the improvement of conditions in the future.
- You can always ask questions – there are explanations as to why each individual animal has ended up in the sanctuary, and is in its current housing. These reasons can be complex and varied, but we feel that to get the most out of your experience you should learn about some of the issues facing both conservationists and animal keepers in the developing world.
- It is not always possible to improve the conditions for one individual animal or group of animals in a short time you are with us on the project. This is not to say we will not be working towards such developments in the future.
You will be treated as temporary staff members when with us, you are expected to participate in any and all jobs that are required for the sanctuary’s maintenance and development. You may also get to witness events that are only the privilege of full-time members of the staff. No special skills or experience is required to be a participant on this project. We generally create jobs and projects that anyone with a reasonable fitness level can help us with, as the majority of our participants do not have prior skills. It is therefore not always simple to reassign tasks and create projects to accommodate specific skills or requests, but we will certainly make use of veterinary physician / builders / carpenters / welders / mechanics etc when and where we can!
The work at the project site is always varied and a working schedule will be arranged for each participating group, ensuring that you will be set on a different task each day. Some work is physically demanding in the outdoors, meaning you also have to cope with the tropical elements. You should truly be prepared for anything! The following are some examples of the works, the actual work maybe different from the examples and will be assigned upon arrival.
- Climbing structures for orangutan
- Building boardwalks for easier tourist and keeper access around the centre
The rainforest is a harsh environment for the longevity of any man-made structures. Therefore, anything that we build needs regular maintenance to ensure that is does not rust/rot/get eaten by termites within a couple of years. This work is usually a lot of cleaning, painting and repairing.
You will be involved in the process of producing enrichment material for the orangutans. This promotes natural behaviours and will enhance their well-being of the orangutans during this period but you will be able to get the chance to observe them from a safe distance enjoying the enrichment that have created!
Husbandry simply means cleaning, feeding and caring for captive animals. Everyday you will have to follow all of the rules and schedule for feeding as well as cleaning time. You will assist in farming and planting, food preparation and care of orangutan exhibition area.
When working around the animals, you will be expected to follow best practise guidelines which include: No food or drinks (outside of the diet provided by the centre) to be given to the animals at any time. Always listen to and follow the instructions of your supervisor/the animal keepers/the rangers.
These guidelines are for the safety both of yourself, and the animals that you are coming to help. We are working to create a new model of responsible tourism, where the interaction with the animals are kept to an absolute minimum, yet the impact and educational value to the human participant is incredibly high.
Please note this trip may require you to purchase a cultural experience week with it. Click Here to find the relevant cultural experience week based on the country where this trip operates in.