What We Do

At our inception, Orangutan Project had just one project: volunteering at Matang Wildlife Centre . Through our partnership with Sarawak Forestry Corporation at this centre, we were also able to quickly work to re-start an orangutan rehabilitation program here, and implement comprehensive animal husbandry and enrichment programs in many of the animal areas. Over the years we have been able to expand the scope of our work significantly, both at this centre and in other areas of Borneo.

‘Volunteering’ is perhaps a misleading name for the opportunity we offer to work with us at these rescue and rehabilitation centres. It is more than working for free – volunteers pay to join us on our projects, and through this fee are actually funding a huge amount of materials, staff and works undertaken on the ground. Simply expecting to work voluntarily is not always useful. To make sure volunteers are actually employed effectively while on site, a team of English-speaking facilitators is essential, as well as all the equipment that the person will need while working (paint, brushes, shovels, wheelbarrows, work gloves, saws etc). Expecting the centres to provide all of this actually places a burden upon them and prevents them continuing their daily work. A successful, meaningful volunteer program takes a lot of hard work to manage, and rehabilitation centres are expensive to run. It is therefore the only logical model that a volunteer should make a significant financial contribution as well.

We also run tourism and educational visits to orangutan rehabilitation centres. Often, tourism surrounding orangutan is focused on a close encounter and fantastic, up-close photo opportunities. There has been a disregard of what is best for the orangutan and an emphasis on pleasing the tourist. It has been assumed that tourist satisfaction at orangutan rehabilitation centres is dependent on a close encounter with these apes, but we believe this is not so. In taking the time to explain the detrimental impact this type of tourism can have on great ape health and behaviour, we have found our tourists to be more respectful of the animals, more interested in some of the issues surrounding problematic tourism practices and more likely to avoid exploitative tourism opportunities with animals in the future.farming

Orangutan Project is passionate about providing truly responsible volunteering and tourism opportunities. We believe that people that search for these kinds of holidays really want to help the cause, and given the chance they can become valuable ambassadors for wildlife, both abroad and at home. One of the rewarding aspects of our job is continually meeting people who care about animals, want to do something to help, and often go out of their way to help the cause. Our projects have thrived because of the people who have decided that working hard in the jungle is a great way to spend their holiday – we think it is important to give these people the chance to truly help the cause, both through their financial contribution and their work while they are with us on site.

Though a lot of our efforts are focused on the centres we are based in, we also keep ‘the bigger picture’ in mind. Being a conservation company is no easy task, and conservation of endangered wildlife certainly won’t be achieved by only helping the rehabilitation centres themselves. Therefore, we continuously strive to create new, innovative and original projects that can provide sustainable solutions to some of the problems faced by animals and ecosystems on Borneo.

With money raised through our volunteering projects, tourism initiatives, business investments, education products and speaking tours, we are also able to fund wider work throughout Borneo, either undertaken ourselves or by trusted NGO and charity partners.

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Cuddle an Orang the ethical way!

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

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Testimonials

  • "Yes, it's hard work, but the satisfaction you get from knowing you are helping to make a difference in these animals' lives makes it all worthwhile."
    Sue, AU
  • I've been every year since 2009 and will continue to visit every year until I become too old and doddery to get on a plane. The most life changing experiences of my life!!
    Elaine
  • "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
  • "...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
  • "Going on the 2 week volunteer trip to the Matang Wildlife Centre will remain one of my top 5 life experiences".
    Tessa, AU

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