Great Orangutan and Pygmy Elephants

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Program Description

Volunteers live in a wildlife sanctuary that houses singing gibbons, orangutans, proboscis monkeys, sun bears, hornbills and the pygmy elephant as well as a host of other rarely seen wildlife. Just before your programme ends you will have a chance to visit the world famous Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre.

The project site is in a little village by the river where you will be spending the majority of your time working on the Corridor of Life. After a complete overview on the Corridor of Life and the importance of the work you will be carrying out, volunteers experience a remnant of paradise on the island on Borneo in an area called the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary.

Volunteers will begin in a suburb of quaint Sandakan called Sepilok. Once an important port for timber merchants, it is now the gateway to the majestic Kinabatangan River and other wildlife and diving sites nearby. Sandakan town is located at the northeast of Sabah.


Potential responsibilities and enriching activities include:

Community Growth -
The community living along the Kinabatangan are mostly a local tribe called the “Orang Sungai” who have lived along the river for generations and have always depended on the rainforest and river for daily resources: food and drinks, medicine, poison, hunting tools and traps, building materials, clothing, carrier bags, and even cosmetics. Today, many of them have found alternatives by working in the tourism industry or with research and conservation teams along the river studying this beautiful landscape and its inhabitants.

Interactions Culturally with the Community -
Take time for the local community to warm up to you and you will get to hear about their daily lives, chat with the children, learn about their family structure. Lunch and dinners will be in the private homes of individual villagers. Living and contributing back to the community is a big part of this programme.

Jungle Treks and Explorations -
As an introduction to the flora and fauna of the rainforest, go for a trek to understand what the rainforest traditionally offers the inhabitants in terms of medication, food and survival. The mysterious tropical rainforest of Borneo has a lot to offer beyond a jungle trek.

Education Programme -
Volunteers are given a framework as the facilitator will guide you in the planning of this session. Spend half a day with school children of the community to work on conservation issues that the children deal with on a daily basis and emphasise their immediate and personal impact on conservation.

Habitat Restoration -
This is the most important activity that ensures the survival of wildlife. The planting of trees will be in sections identified as high priority and will build towards the creation of corridors for wildlife to move from one section of a sanctuary to another. Take part in tree-planting, nursery care and seedling generation, sapling maintenance, mulching & composting, clearing invasive species and also tree growth data recording.

Wildlife Population Observation -
A lot of time is spent observing wildlife and their habitat, which is done from a boat cruising along the main river and its tributaries within the wildlife sanctuary. Go on a river cruise to observe the endangered wildlife roaming the forest along the river banks.


No special skills or qualifications are required - just a minimum age of 18 and a willingness to get involved with all activities.

Volunteer Types

What`s Included

•Airport transfers to and from Sandakan Airport (SDK)
•Welcome dinner in Sepilok, Sandakan
•Transfer from temporary accommodation to project site accommodation
•Programme introduction in Sabah and orientation in the village
•Entrance fees to Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary
•Entrance fees to Rainforest Discovery Centre
•English-speaking programme facilitator
•11 nights at designated accommodation
•Meals whilst partaking in the project
•All activities, materials, tools and equipment included in orangutan volunteer 'Project Days'
•Boat and river transfers

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Program Locations

Sandakan, Malaysia

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Program Details

The Great Projects
  • Malaysia: Sandakan
Throughout the year
Program Duration:
1-2 weeks
American, Asian, Australian, Canadian, European, Kiwi, South African, Worldwide
From £1,095.00
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