Matang Wildlife Centre Volunteer Program

Through 2012-2013, our price for a two week volunteering placement was £602 per person, which was roughly RM2750. The chart below demonstrates the division of this money through 2012 between expenditure on our project site, and expenses incurred through the volunteers themselves:

Expenditure 2012



  • Cost of the volunteer: includes nights spent at Basaga, food budgets, costs associated with transportation, tourism days, maintenance to and rental of housing at Matang
  • Expenditure at Matang: includes salaries of local staff, daily food rations for the animals, veterinary care, materials for construction projects, husbandry equipment, enrichment foods and devices, maintenance supplies, and funds for research projects (camera traps, habitat surveys, wildlife surveys etc).


We endeavour to meet the living expenses of our Western staff through means other than volunteer contributions such as day-tourism ventures, fees obtained through professional speaking engagements and other commercial tourism products. Our Western team is not salaried, we simply cover food and accommodation.

 Where money is remaining at the end of a given month (which is not always the case, depending on how many volunteers have come through), we save this money for spend on larger projects, such as new enclosures or equipment such as radio telemetry tracking and receiving devices. Generally, the income from the volunteer project is tied up in the daily running costs of Matang (not including the cost of the volunteer themselves). Many of our larger projects and/or purchases have been made through donations, with some assistance from extra money earned from months with lots of volunteers.

As of December 2012, Orangutan Project has spent RM2,383,890 at and on Matang Wildlife Centre, which is almost £500,000 or $800,000. We are proud that a small volunteering project has been able to create such a significant financial contribution to conservation and animal welfare.


Cuddle an Orang the ethical way!

Help fund our work with this soft Orangutan toy - £17+postage.

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  • "Going on the 2 week volunteer trip to the Matang Wildlife Centre will remain one of my top 5 life experiences".
    Tessa, AU
  • Going to Borneo to work with orang-utans has always been an ambition of mine and it was definitely worth the wait! I loved my experience at Matang and I would go back in a heartbeat. It is hard work but so worthwhile and I surprised myself by how much I could push myself. I feel privileged to have worked with such an amazing array of wildlife and such a dedicated, passionate team of people. Volunteering at the centre has been the most wonderful experience and it has made me even more passionate and determined to work in the conservation sector. I can't wait to go back! Rach

    Rachel Harper
  • In the past 2 weeks I've done more than I ever thought possible. I've helped with enrichment and husbandry at Matang Wildlife Centre with orangutans, sun bears, gibbons and many others. Seen flying lemers glide, wild pigs run on the beach, sunsets like no other, been bitten by a leech, mixed cement by hand, carried wheel barrow after wheel barrow and shovelled so much s*?it I'm considering adding it to skills on my c.v. I've learnt so much and it's been a truly life changing experience and to top it off I've met some amazing people! I'll be back Borneo! Volunteered April 2016
    Jade Galley
  • "...The whole experience was amazing, the keepers were  so friendly and taught us so much about the animals... It was one of the best experiences of my life and would do it again."
    Erika, UK
  • "You will be surprised by how much you are capable of and you will inspire your friends back home to follow their dreams too".
    Carlene, NZ

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A few parting words from one of our April #volunteers Margaux Pfau:
"What an experience... Living those last weeks in the middle of the rainforest, surrounded by this gorgeous vegetation. Working everyday with incredible animals, from the amazing Orangs to the cuties Slow Loris, the beautiful Clouded Leopards, Sun Bears and so many others ... I will never forget this powerful #volunteering, I learned so much by living in such a peaceful place with nothing but nature. I'm also really glad that I shared this experience with an awesome volunteers team and the most benevolent staff I've ever met! I wish the best for Matang Wildlife Center, who's just doing a remarkable work full of love and passion with the endangered animals. Goodbye Borneo, my heart belongs to you and the fantastic wildlife you have ❤"

Thanks Margaux, hope to see you here again in the future :)

We have been reluctant to post photos of this orangutan, as we are aware that cute photos of baby orphans often inspire a lot of love, which is wonderful, and also a lot of the "you are SO lucky, I would just LOVE to be able to cuddle him" sentiment. Please remember that for humans to cuddle baby orangutan, either mothers have been killed, babies have been forcibly removed (in some zoos animals will be forced to breed just to provide babies for photo ops for tourists) or in rare cases like this, a traumatic separation has occurred and just 2 or 3 humans will be responsible for the infant's care. Please NEVER pay for a photo opportunity with wildlife babies, wherever you are.

As you'll remember, the #orangutan Ting San unexpectedly gave birth at Matang in early March. Unfortunately, after less than 2 weeks it became clear that she wasn't feeding her baby and he was slowly starving, so we had to intervene and take him from her, with HUGE regret and sorrow. This could be due to Ting San's start in life, as she was kept as an illegal pet and treated very much like a human baby, as far as we know spending no formative time with her mum in a natural setting.

The baby needed quite intensive care for a few days as he was very malnourished and dehydrated and only weighed 1kg. In the last few weeks he has more than doubled in weight and is now looking like a healthy baby orangutan.

Ting San has showed very little interest in him when we have brought him into the orangutan area, and as it is very unlikely she will be producing enough milk now to feed him (and also unlikely that she would show any interest in doing so again) so we have him in our care for the time being. We will keep you updated on his progress!

(If you would like to hug the orangutan that the baby is hugging, you can find these plush toys in our shop!)

A big thanks to all the #volunteers who helped build this new pond the #sunbears are LOVING it! ...