Program & Schedule
The focus of this project is purely orangutan conservation and research. Enrichment, husbandry, organic planting as food source, construction, and maintenance of the sanctuary is the model norm of this project.
The project site is located on a 35-acre island nestled within a 7000-acre freshwater lakeside. It has progressed from being a sanctuary where visitors experience first-hand awareness and education about the orangutan, to a recognised ex-situ conservation facility and referral centre for the endangered Bornean orangutan.
The Orangutan Sanctuary site plays an important role in building local conservation capacity by providing exposure to visitors on various aspects of primatology such as primate behavior and its ecology; captive care and veterinary medicine; and conservation biology.
With assistance in expertise from regional primatologists and conservation biologists, the project aims to strengthen its commitment towards scientific research on the Bornean orangutan.
Orangutan Sanctuary has achieved success and demand for its activities and programmes, attracting interest from, among others, universities from within Malaysia and around the world, for joint-cooperation across fields in education and research.
Orangutan Sanctuary serves as a centre for training, developing and enhancing the capacity of graduate students and young scientists in carrying out both in-situ and ex-situ conservation research and activities on the orangutan and its habitats.
Your Roles - General Information
A good level of fitness is required to participate on this project. The work is sometimes physical, the heat and humidity make this more challenging. There is a working schedule and plan setup for each participant. Please take note that you are coming to an operational rescue and rehabilitation centre, we cannot predict what may happen each day, potential new orangutan arrivals or any of the current animals under the centre’s care. Therefore, we ask the participants to be flexible and tolerant of potential delays or changes to the planned work as different projects may get reprioritized.
Patience is needed as you adjust to ‘Malaysia time’ – participants always come with huge amounts of enthusiasm and energy to plough into the project, which is a massive asset and positively impact on the sanctuary. You simply add a helpful and necessary piece to a much larger puzzle, and you should not expect the world of animal conservation to make great strides forward in the timeframe of your project. The Malaysian approach to work is also vastly different from the Western mentality. Therefore please prepare to embrace the cultural difference rather than display frustration and/or incredulity at the local labouring techniques and ethos.
Please remember that:
- If all conditions were perfect for the animals, there would be no on-going need for labour on the island. One of the reasons you are here is to facilitate the improvement of conditions in the future.
- You can always ask questions – there are explanations as to why each individual animal has ended up in the sanctuary, and is in its current housing. These reasons can be complex and varied, but we feel that to get the most out of your experience you should learn about some of the issues facing both conservationists and animal keepers in the developing world.
- It is not always possible to improve the conditions for one individual animal or group of animals in a short time you are with us on the project. This is not to say we will not be working towards such developments in the future.
- Please note that when you are at the project, you will notice some of the orangutans in cages. That is mainly to make ensure their safety and rehabilitation. Some of these orangutans have been mistreated by humans and until they are properly cured and ready to come out, we have to keep them in the cages.
You will be treated as temporary staff members when with us, you are expected to participate in any and all jobs that are required for the sanctuary’s maintenance and development. You may also get to witness events that are only the privilege of full-time members of the staff. No special skills or experience is required to be a participant on this project. We generally create jobs and projects that anyone with a reasonable fitness level can help us with, as the majority of our participants do not have prior skills. It is therefore not always simple to reassign tasks and create projects to accommodate specific skills or requests, but we will certainly make use of veterinary physician / builders / carpenters / welders / mechanics etc when and where we can!
The work at the project site is always varied and a working schedule will be arranged for each participating group, ensuring that you will be set on a different task each day. Some work is physically demanding in the outdoors, meaning you also have to cope with the tropical elements. You should truly be prepared for anything! The following are some examples of the works, the actual work maybe different from the examples and will be assigned upon arrival.
- Climbing structures for orangutan
- Building boardwalks for easier tourist and keeper access around the centre
The rainforest is a harsh environment for the longevity of any man-made structures. Therefore, anything that we build needs regular maintenance to ensure that is does not rust/rot/get eaten by termites within a couple of years. This work is usually a lot of cleaning, painting and repairing.
You will be involved in the process of producing enrichment material for the orangutans. This promotes natural behaviours and will enhance their well-being of the orangutans during this period but you will be able to get the chance to observe them from a safe distance enjoying the enrichment that have created!
Husbandry simply means cleaning, feeding and caring for captive animals. Everyday you will have to follow all of the rules and schedule for feeding as well as cleaning time. You will assist in farming and planting, food preparation and care of orangutan exhibition area.
When working around the animals, you will be expected to follow best practise guidelines which include: No food or drinks (outside of the diet provided by the centre) to be given to the animals at any time. Always listen to and follow the instructions of your supervisor/the animal keepers/the rangers.
These guidelines are for the safety both of yourself, and the animals that you are coming to help. We are working to create a new model of responsible tourism, where the interaction with the animals are kept to an absolute minimum, yet the impact and educational value to the human participant is incredibly high.
Aims & Objectives
The aims and objectives of this conservation project is to spread awareness about these intelligent creatures, prevent them from going extinct, conserve their habitat, provide opportunity for students to study the importance of orangutans in the food chain and in the ecosystem, provide help and support for the injured and rescued orangutans and not but the least to preserve these species for future generations.
After reaching Taiping, you will get an exposure into intercultural learning in Taiping on the first day. You will also get to know more about Malayan people’s culture and traditions.
Tuesday to Friday
Your day will begin on the project wherein you get involved deep into various activities of the project. The work on this project is physical, and the heat and humidity add an extra challenging layer to this. You will be carrying out a variety of tasks including husbandry, construction work, enrichment and maintenance. The “best” jobs are not saved for the participants - you will be treated as pseudo staff members during the duration of your program. You will be required for assistance wherever the need may arise at the sanctuary.
These days are your off days to relax and absorb all the energy needed for your following week of your work.
Week 2 & Onwards
Monday to Friday
The following week you will continue with your work as per the required activities at the sanctuary.
Would be the end of your journey or you could choose to continue your project.This schedule can be changed and/or amended depending on weather conditions, local conditions and unforeseen circumstances.
Participant Criteria & Requirements
Minimum age: 18
Maximum age: -
Minimum English level: Basic
CRB required: No
Passport copy required: On Signup
Resume copy required: No
Required qualification: None
Due to the length and active nature of this program, a decent level of fitness is required.
Living & Location
Taiping is a town located in Larut, Matang and Selama District, Perak, Malaysia. With a population of 217,647, it is the second largest town in Perak after Ipoh, the state capital.
Taiping is a town located in Larut, Matang and Selama District, Perak, Malaysia. Taiping took over Kuala Kangsar's role as the state capital from 1876 to 1937, but was then replaced by Ipoh. Its growth slowed down after that, but in recent years the town has been developing rapidly again. Perak State Museum is located in the town.
Taiping also receives some limelight for being the wettest town in Peninsular Malaysia. The average annual rainfall is about 4,000mm in Taiping while the peninsula's average is 2,000mm – 2,500mm. Its unusual rainfall has also led to a fertile collection of flora and century-old rain trees in the Taiping Lake Gardens.
Accommodation in Perak is a hostel dormitory.
Furthermore, there is a refrigerator which you are welcome to use to store food and beverages.
Malaysian food is tasty and diverse and you can expect to experience a myriad of flavors and meals during their stay. Typical dishes include wanton noodles (noodles and pork dumplings either dry or soup), nasi goreng (fried rice and vegetables) or roti canai (is a type of Indian influenced flatbread found in Malaysia. Breakfasts are varied and and include toast, cereals, etc. Tea, coffee and purified water is available at the house. We do not recommend that you drink water straight from the tap.
The centre is surrounded by plenty of shops, banks, atms, 7-11, supermarket and a shopping mall within 5 minutes walking distance.
Supermarket, salon, Laundromat, money exchange, ATM, sim card shop, and photocopy shops are all located within 1 kilometers radius.
Activities & Events
No scheduled activities outside the program.
Sights & Surroundings
The working week is Monday to Friday and you will have weekends off. For many people, this will be a once in a lifetime trip to Malaysia, and they generally take advantage of the weekends to explore the surrounding area.
After a tiring work, you may visit Bukit Merah Water Theme Park by the beautiful lake to enjoy sunset view and even try to taste the freshness of coconut water and also ABC (Ais Batu Campur), local dessert with local food at the stalls.
On weekends, you can try to do a visit or do some other activities such as :
- Taiping, Perak one of the oldest town in Malaysia where the first train station was built in the 19 century.
- Night market
- Wet market
- Kuala Sepetang, for eagle sighting and mangrove site visit
With ETS train service often available, it is possible to head further into the field for your weekend. Other destinations where you can go explore are:
Kuala Lumpur– Malaysia’s capital city where the Twin Tower is located
Penang Island – Georgetown which was founded by British in 1786, is currently a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
From this location we do not provide free transport to other locations.
Name: Federation of Malaysia
Population: 31 million
Capital: Kuala Lumpur
Language: Bahasa Malaysia
Currency: Malaysian Ringgit (MYR)
Time zone: MST (UTC +8)
Malaysia is one of the most culturally and geographically diverse countries in the world. It is filled with contrasts, and it is here where you meet friendly people from different cultural backgrounds in the either vibrant cities, beautiful beaches or even in tiny authentic villages in the rainforests of Borneo.
Malaysia boasts a tropical climate, temperatures usually range from 26°C to 32°C year-round. However, as many of the countries in the area, sunny days get interrupted by monsoon season that occurs between November and February in Borneo and the east coast. Likewise, the rest of Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur region) gets showers from April to October.
Malaysia is a wonderfully diverse country. Malays make up 52% percent of the population, while Chinese are also abundant covering a 27% percent. Indians make up 9% and the rest is covered by indigenous people (Orang Asli) and the portuguese clan in Maleka.
Religion is incredibly varied as well. In Malaysia, you will find Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, Taoism, Hinduism and many other faiths scattered around.
Malaysia is an incredibly diverse country and so is its cuisine. With a blend of Malay, Chinese, Indian and even portuguese cuisine, there is at least a dish in the country that will suit even the pickiest palettes.
Malay Cuisine is characterized by its use of spices, ranging from cinnamon, coconut milk, star anise, fresh herbs and more. Malay dishes are mostly curries and stews. Staple dishes include Nasi lemak, a typical breakfast that consists of rice cooked in coconut milk or cream topped with peanuts, cucumber and chilli and Rendang, which is meat stewed in curry paste.
Peranakan or Nonya cuisine
A blend created by Malay and Chinese communities. Some dishes to try are Ayam pongteh, which is chicken flavored with soy bean paste, dark soy sauce and sugar. Another dish is chilli crab!