Meet the Team

Leo Biddle : CEO and Founder

Leo Biddle

CEO and Founder

Leo has led on many humanitarian, conservation and animal welfare projects around the world, though prior to his time on Borneo has always taken more of a consultant’s role. This was the route of his initial entry to Malaysia, thinking back in 2005 that he would stay for two to three weeks to consult for Matang and assist with the creation of a rehabilitation strategy for the resident orangutan. Evidently there was something worth sticking around for, and the organisation he has created on Borneo, Orangutan Project, is now leading the way with non-profit business ventures (from tourism to bars!) to create unique and sustainable revenue streams for Leo's conservation goals. Leo is from England.

biddleleo@gmail.com
Natasha Beckerson : General Manager

Natasha Beckerson

General Manager

After participating in many volunteering projects through 2007, including a few months at Matang, Tasha focused her time on studying the sun bears due to the scarcity of information relating to this species. A planned short trip back to check on the bears and assist with the burgeoning volunteering project for a few weeks led to her being a permanent installation in Orangutan Project. From her beginnings as someone simply interested helping the plight of some of the unknown animal species on Borneo, Tasha committed to the project and decidedly increased her workload over time to become an integral part of this company. She is from England.

tashabecks@gmail.com
Richard : Volunteer Facilitator

Richard

Volunteer Facilitator

Richard lives in a remote village just next door to Matang Wildlife Centre. Prior to joining Orangutan Project, he had extensive experience in the tourism industry, working as a driver and assistant for large hotel chains. He has a laid-back, friendly manner typical of his Sarawakian heritage, but there is an extra sparkle in Richard that is hard to define. Everyone who meets him feels as though they have made a friend within the first few minutes of knowing him and he makes Westerners feel immediately at home in a foreign country. Richard was born in Sarawak and is of the Iban ethnicity.

Dominic : Volunteer Facilitator

Dominic

Volunteer Facilitator

Dominic has a huge amount of experience in rehabilitating orangutan and working closely with these animals in semi-wild conditions. He worked at Semenggoh Nature Reserve for eleven years prior to joining Orangutan Project. Dominic has a natural ability with all animals, though connects especially well with the great apes under his care. He is one of a very small group of people in the world that is comfortable rehabilitating adult orangutan and shows an innate understanding of their individual personalities and character. Dominic also speaks fluent English and has an excellent manner with Westerners. Dominic was born in Sarawak and is decended from both the Melanua and Iban tribes.

Kerrie Chalker : Volunteer facilitator

Kerrie Chalker

Volunteer facilitator

Kerrie showed passion for orangutan conservation when, since 2009, each holiday she could take from her job in Australia became a volunteering trip to help Matang Wildlife Centre. It was not just the orangutan that kept bringing Kerrie back, but a passion to try to improve the lives of all the amazing animals that end up in centres like Matang. Following those initial trips as a paying volunteer, Kerrie thought the proposal of returning as a longer-term volunteer with no salary and a more responsible and official job role sounded like a great idea. She joined the team at Matang in March 2013 and is still going strong.

Bron Browning : Volunteer facilitator

Bron Browning

Volunteer facilitator

Bron has been determined to help the conservation of great apes and other animals for as long as she can remember. Her path to this goal to date has seen her join numerous volunteer projects working with great apes, spend many months overseas in the animals' home countries and form her own charity, The Happy Ape Project, to raise funds for supplies that centres may need, especially in the pursuit of improving animal welfare. Bron joined Orangutan Project in 2013, for a more hands-on role in assisting both our conservation and animal welfare goals.

Gav Nicholl and Anji Whitehead : Monkeebar management, tour assistants, puppy fosterers

Gav Nicholl and Anji Whitehead

Monkeebar management, tour assistants, puppy fosterers

Gav and Ange joined the Orangutan Project team in 2014 to manage Monkeebar, a non-profit bar in Kuching. They have not only overseen this hugely successful business and therefore made a massive financial difference to our work but have also become involved with the local SSPCA, volunteering their time there and turning the Monkeebar volunteer house into a foster house for puppies in need. In 2016 they have also been assisting on our Orangutan and Rainforest Tribes Tour. They are HUGE and lifelong supporters of animal rights, welfare and conservation and their passion has been an asset to our team.

Dave Phillips : Volunteer Facilitator and builder

Dave Phillips

Volunteer Facilitator and builder

Dave participated on our volunteering project in Ketapang multiple times, and during a relaxing period of travelling the world he answered our call for an additional facilitator for the project there. He clearly thought enjoying leisurely time in countries never before explored was rather a waste, and that unpaid, physical labour under the baking Bornean sun was a much better idea. Dave spent his first month with us assisting OFI in Kalimantan with construction of an enclosure for sun bears, and now splits his time between Matang and Ketapang.

Kristi Smith : Organic farm development

Kristi Smith

Organic farm development

Kristi volunteered on our project in Ketapang multiple times. She showed passion and enthusiasm for helping conservation and animal welfare, both through her choice of 'holiday' and her work for animal shelters at home. With a background in horticulture, Kristi has been an excellent addition to the team at a time when we are developing fruit and veg farms for the animals at the centres where we are based.

Jagarai : Tour guide

Jagarai

Tour guide

Jagarai has been guiding on our Orangutan and Rainforest Tribes Tour since 2014. With decades of experience and a degree in botany, he is a fantastic leader of our tour groups and is full of fascinating information about Borneo's wildlife. He is also an incredible cook and our groups have hugely enjoyed indulging on his culinary wizardry.

Alvin Danker : Tour guide

Alvin Danker

Tour guide

With a military background, Alvin is not your typical, laid-back, adheres-to-rubber-time-only kind of Malaysian. Born in Sarawak, he retired from a career in the military to become a tour guide. Not just a standard tour guide, but in our opinion the best tour guide on Borneo. He assists with our Orangutan, Rainforests and Tribes Tour, as well as ancillary tours that we are able to run. Alvin is incredibly passionate about conservation of all species of animal and to say he is knowledgeable about Borneo is an understatement. He has been with Orangutan Project since 2012

Apai Jugah : Orangutan Rehabilitation Officer

Apai Jugah

Orangutan Rehabilitation Officer

Apai Jugah is the Tuai Rumah, or head man, of the community that resides next door to Matang Wildlife Centre, Kampung Rayu. He worked with the Forest Department for many years before joining Orangutan Project to help care for and rehabilitate the younger orangutan at Matang. Apai Jugah takes these young animals to the forest each day, and sometimes for many days at a time, living in a wooden hut in the jungle. Apai Jugah was born in Sarawak and is of the Iban ethnicity.

Apai Sandi : Orangutan Rehabilitation Officer

Apai Sandi

Orangutan Rehabilitation Officer

Apai Sandi is the religious leader of the community that resides closest to Matang Wildlife Centre, Kampung Rayu. He is a very dedicated member of staff, and focuses his time on the youngest orangutan at Matang. He spends most of his days in the jungle with them, and quite regularly has to move to the jungle for weeks at a time for the orangutan’s rehabilitation training. Sandi was born in Sarawak and is of the Iban ethnicity.

Sangan : Dependent animal carer

Sangan

Dependent animal carer

Sangan has worked with Orangutan Project since 2009 and has been integral in the provision of 24 hour daily care to the youngest animals that have arrived to Matang. Species she has taken care of to date include orangutan, silver langurs and sun bears. Sangan was born in Sarawak and is of the Iban ethnicity.

Jack and Ramli : Animal trackers

Jack and Ramli

Animal trackers

Jack and Ramli were hired from local communities in 2015 to spend each day in the rain forest, attempting to catch the signal of animals that we have released from Matang. We were only in a financial position to invest in this technology in 2015, so since then have been honing our skills as a team in monitoring small mammals that we have released with radio transmitters attached.

Contract staff

At any one time, we also have as many as ten additional contracted members of staff who perform essential roles such as catering, animal monitoring, animal rescues/confiscations, construction and cleaning. These staff members are always sought from the local communities, and we are always aiming to increase our employment rate of indigenous people.

Honourable mentions

Through running our volunteer programs, we are lucky enough to meet some incredibly passionate individuals who go out of their way to assist us as best they can from their own homes around the world. Others have become serial volunteers, spending a few weeks of every year helping our projects and the animals on Borneo. Our efforts are certainly indebted to these people, and it is through meeting people like you that we keep a bit of hope alive for the human race. Our worldwide team includes:
Hayley Meter
Casey Murtagh
Lynne Parish
Matt Armstrong
Beverly Wakeford-Brown + family
Tony Hepworth
Melissa Bennett
Noel Burtenshaw
Elaine Foster
Cath Willers
Deb AcAlpine
Mike Zedeker
Paul Brand
Leisa Woodhouse
Jenny Freitzche
Lyn Pendle

We also give sincere thanks to Tessa Read, who designed and built the website voluntarily during her evenings and weekends.