Wildlife Volunteering

Orangutan Project is passionate about providing truly responsible wildlife 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 and want to do something to help. Our volunteer project has 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 volunteers the chance to truly help the cause, both through their financial contribution and their work while they are with us on site.

The volunteer project that we run operates at Matang Wildlife Centre in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo. Matang is a government run centre and is the only centre on the entire island of Borneo that takes in all species of wildlife in need. At this centre we work closely in partnership with Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) who hold the overall responsibility for the centre. Though we have a close collaboration with SFC, we are also trusted to operate independently and complete works that facilitate the progression of the centre. Our volunteer project at Matang aims to provide the best possible care for the animals who have found themselves at the centre. Most of Matang’s residents are victims of habitat loss and the pet trade.

‘Volunteering’ on our project is more than working for free – volunteers pay to join us on our project, and through this fee are actually funding a huge amount of materials, staff and works undertaken to better the lives of the animals at the centre. To make sure volunteers are employed effectively while on site, a team of English-speaking facilitators is essential as is all the equipment that the volunteer will need while working. Most wildlife rescue centres struggle to raise enough funds to provide for the immediate needs of the animals let alone fund the outlay required to run a successful volunteer project. A volunteer project takes a lot of hard work to manage, and rehabilitation centres are expensive to run. Therefore, whilst it might initially seem like paying to volunteer is a strange concept it really is the only sustainable way to run a successful, meaningful and productive volunteer project that has measureable and positive outcomes for the animals.

Volunteering on a project is likely to be one of the most rewarding and memorable experiences of your life. However, it does require a lot of hard work in conditions that many of us are not used to. We treat our volunteers like temporary members of staff. We expect you to participant in any and all jobs that are required for the centre’s maintenance and development. Volunteers work under the supervision of a staff member on jobs including but not limited to; husbandry, construction tasks, centre maintenance, organic crop farming and enrichment. Enrichment is a really fun task that gives you the opportunity to provide the animals with some entertain and then observe them from a distance.

You do not need any special skills or experience to be of use as a volunteer. We have many years of experience creating programmes and jobs that people from all backgrounds can participate in and get real satisfaction from doing so. Remember that the work is physical though, and Borneo is hot at all times of the year so you will get more out of the project if you are relatively fit.

To find out more about our volunteer project click here. 


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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
  • "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
  • 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!!
  • 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
  • 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

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