Travellers Worldwide - Volunteer with Orang-Utans in Malaysia

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Video and Photos

Orangutans in Malaysia
Orangutans in Malaysia
Care for wildlife in Malaysia
Care for wildlife in Malaysia
Volunteer with a monkey
Volunteer with a monkey
Baby monkey in Malaysia
Baby monkey in Malaysia

About

Orang-Utans are astonishingly gentle, highly intelligent and they gaze at you with almost disconcerting frankness! At Sepilok you will have the opportunity to work with these gentle and highly intelligent red apes in their natural environment. Interaction with these remarkable creatures, man's closest relative, will be an unforgettable experience!

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Questions & Answers

It looks like volunteers range from ages 16-70. Hope that helps!

Reviews

9.23 Rating
based on 13 reviews
  • Impact 8.5
  • Support 7.7
  • Fun 8.3
  • Value 8.4
  • Safety 9.3
Showing 1 - 8 of 13
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Katie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

a life changing experience

This has been a life changing experience. One that has allowed me to see some fantastic things - the release of the 23 year old male who has been at Sepilok for 8 years, to take 8 month old Orang-Utans to play at the lake, to teach them to climb ropes, to watch the rehabilitated Orang-Utans swing through trees in the forest. It has been too amazing to put into words.
I have also learnt so much about orang-utans. I bought a book on them whilst out here but the facts I have learnt from the staff at Sepilok have made me even more passionate about them and their current plight.

I honestly cannot praise this placement enough so anything else I can do for you, please just yell. Thank you so much for letting me do this, I have loved every second of it.

What was the best thing about your placement?
I could not narrow it down to one experience. I just think of certain moments such as bathing Toby who is 5 after one of the others pooed on his head - when am I ever going to get to do that again?!! Or when we met the minister for Tourism at the handing over of the Land Rover that was bought by the UK Appeal and aided by Land Rover Malaysia. Or when I got to take the babies onto the ropes and teach them to climb them. Or just hanging out at Sepilok Jungle Resort with the rest of the volunteers talking about what we had all done that day and what funny things ourfavourite orang-utans had done.

Would you recommend this placement to anyone else? I would definitely recommend this placement. I have never had one regret about coming here - only wishing that I could have done it sooner and that it lasted for longer than 2 months!

What type of person do you think this placement would suit?
I have really felt this placement has tested my character in many ways so I believe it has to be someone with a strong will and determination. At times this placement isn't just physically tiring but emotionally tiring as well. There are days when you are very tired and you must be strong minded enough to work through these days. There were times when I felt suffocated by the environment and the people you are working with but the excitement of working at Sepilok overweighs that enormously.
Obviously, they must love orang-utans and be fully committed to their rehabilitation. Someone who wants to know more about the conservation efforts and is determined to help in whatever way, even if it is whole days just cleaning buildings.
On this placement you cannot help but become attached to certain orang-utans and it is incredibly hard to leave and say goodbye - so someone who is emotionally stronger than me as I cried for a week before leaving!!!

What would you improve about this program?
I honestly cannot think of any improvements that can be made. Everything was wonderful. The accommodation was a lot better than I had expected it to be, I was so happy to see that we had our own bathroom and air con and to get a TV as well was such a bonus!!
There were times when I was jungle trekking where I wished I could have been working with the Orang-Utans but that was only because I was tired and then I realised that the work we were doing in the jungle, searching for nests, was aiding the rehabilitation of the orang-utans and evaluating the success of the Centre, so very important work.
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Natalie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Fansastic Orangutan Project at Sepilok

The daily work of caring for the Orang-utans was great. In the clinic/nursery at both Sepilok and the Rasa Ria you get the chance to be really involved with the care orang-utans; Feeding bathing and creating activities to keep them entertained and best of all cuddles with the babies. It was the best part of the trip and the most amazing experience I have ever had.

You get about 10 days in each rotation. Not all rotations do you get to have close contact with the orang-utans, but the opportunities you have to observe from a distance, engage and interact with the environment and the staff at the centre are endless.

Within a few weeks I had gotten used to the leaches, and all the other bugs, spiders and snakes you see around the place.

If we had free time we would go and help out at the Sun Bear sanctuary or go to the tourist platforms and see what the rehabilitated orang-utans are getting up to. When you first arrive they all look orange and hairy but it doesn't take long to learn all their names and get to know their characters. The rangers and researchers love to test you on who's who.

If you willing to get stuck in and take on any challenge you will really feel part of the Sepilok family and have as an amazing time as I had.

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JenofBorneo
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Wonderful experience caring for orang utans in their recovery and release

The best part of the experience was the variety of jobs to be done, learnings, adventures and close encounters with wildlife.
The only bad experience I had was with a fellow volunteer who was difficult to deal with and there was very little assistance available.

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Sarah
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Unforgetable social interactions

My experiences on this project are ones that I hold dear to my heart 3 years on and probably will forever. I not only made friends for life but fell in love with nature all over again and can truely say my, appreciation for life the things i deem to be important has changed for good. I arrived and in three months grew up learnt alot from volunteer and locals and left a changed woman. My experiences with the Orangs were far more intense than I ever imagined, I found a maternal side to me that I had never experienced, I fell in love with them and their environment which has driven me to continue fund raising and involving myself in environmental groups since.

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Gem
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Memories for a lifetime

This trip offers a truly unique and rare experience. The level of hands on interaction you get to have with the Orang-u-tans is an unbelievable privilege, the setting is teaming with wildlife and greenery.

Whilst there are uncomfortable aspects to the trip; leeches, constant humidity, limited food options, the plight of deforestation, exposure to poverty in the cities, and numerous malnourished street animals, there are so many good people and positive opportunities that these negatives strengthen your character and resolve as opposed to weakening your heart.

I would recommend this trip to anyone who is realisitc, active and spirited, and doesn't mind hard work!

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kyjen
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

No Trouble in Paradise!

Borneo is an absolutely exqisite country. Just outside of Sandakan, Sabah, lies the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. Nestled in amongst the jungle, you will find the centre with its amazing staff and curious tourists.

While volunteering at Sepilok, myself along with 11 other worldly travellers lived just outside the gates of the main centre. Falling asleep every night to the sounds of the jungle, was a welcome change to the hustle and bustle of city life back in Australia. Divided into 4 groups of 3 volunteers, we worked out way through 4 rotations, each lasting 9 days, with a few days in between to enjoy the local scenery and well as the local party scene!

Each rotation gave us a different experience with the orangutans. Witin the clinic, we were responsible for feeding and bathing sick orangutans, helping nurse them back to health, as well as supervising enrichment time with the smallest orangutans at the centre (those up to around 2 years old - so cute!). Trekking tested our fitness, walking through the hot and steamy jungle for up to three hours a day (one group was gone for almost 10 hours!), looking for orangutan nests in the trees, and learning about the local flora and fauna from the extremely knowledgeable rangers. Working out the outdoor centre gave us the experience of supervising the older orangutans during their climbing practice, making sure they had the skills to be released into the protected forest surrounding us. This was where the orangutan's individual personalities really shone! And finally, we all did a stint at the luxurious Rasa Ria Resort, feeding, bathing and supervisiing enrichment of the four orangutans there, who played in the jungle while tourists watched. The Rasa Ria also cared for baby orangutan "Ten Ten", who at the time was a tiny 8 months old.

In between my working days, I visited the pristine Turtle island, climbed a giant mountain of bat poo and proceeeded to have hundreds of thousands of bats fly overhead, Caught a ferry to Brunei and spent 3 days exploring one of the richest countries in the world, visited the Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary (45 minutes away from Sepilok), learnt how to eat with my hands - traditional Malay style, and overall just soaked in my amazing surroundings. I have never seen anything like Borneo in my life.

Not only did I have the most life changing experience, I learnt so much about a people, animal and lifestyle that I knew nothing about. I cannot explain in words the thanks I have for being able to participate in this project, it changed the way I look at life, and since returning home, my thinking and my life path have both been altered. I cannot wait to visit again!

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Bethan
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A must for animal lovers

The whole placement was a once in a lifetime experience for me. It was such a privilege to able to get up close to these orang utans. Working at Platform 4 meant that twice a day we would carry up basketfuls of bananas and canisters of milk so that they could be fed. Some days we were surrounded by up to 14 Orangutans, hanging out whilst taking their share of food and drink right in the middle of the most beautiful rainforest setting. We were lucky enough to be in the presence of Miskam the second biggest male on a daily basis and also Clenan and her tiny baby only a few months old. Saving the best ‘til last, on my last day at Platform 4, I was lucky enough to see CID, the alpha male who only puts in an appearance every couple of months. He is truly massive and magnificent and quite intimidating (especially for Miskam!). When working at the clinic, I had the privilege of feeding the babies and juveniles, bathing them and taken them out to the trees and ropes to improve their climbing skills.

This placement was an amazing trip in so many ways. Not only was I working very closely with Orang Utans at Sepilok but also having amazing adventures on my days off as well which were all organised by Travellers including climbing the 4095 metre high Mount Kinabalu, watching a hawksbill turtle laying her eggs and watching hatchlings (baby turtles) being released into the sea and scuba diving. I saw gibbons, flying squirrels and proboscis monkeys in the wild as well as numerous kingfishers, hornsbills and other exotic birds.

The Malay people are very friendly and all the staff were great. The rest house accommodation is just down the road from the centre and has everything you need. We were fed great food three times a day.

If you have the time and the money (it is quite expensive), it is a great placement to do. Be patient though, theres a big waiting list!

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SB
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Awesome Orangutan Experience in Malaysia with Travellers Worldwide

Hi future volunteers,
I participated in the orangutan volunteer placement in 2009 and to this day rate it as the best experience I have had!
I loved the variety of work we got to do, living practically in the jungle (with propert accomodation mind-you - I was expecting it to be a bit more rough going)and I had a great group of volunteers working with me. And of course the highlight was getting to work hands on with orang utans.
I was lucky enough to have saved enough money to do all of the optional activities on the weekends and would highly recommend doing these as they hugely contributed to my experience!
I won't give too much away here because I think one of the best bits is not knowing quite what to expect - and I'm sure the experience is slightly different for each group anyway.