Volunteering with Orangutans

The time as a volunteer with the orangutans and sun bears in Samboja Lestari on Borneo was probably the most rewarding of our projects and we would not mind going back there. People have asked how we ended up there, so here are some pointers if you are interested in going there yourself!

Most of the prep work was done for us by a company called The Great Projects in the UK. They specialize on bringing people who want to volunteer for a good cause or do “voluntourism” together with projects that need volunteers all around the world. Not all projects are equally well run or meaningful as this one, though.

The organization in Indonesia The Great Projects work with is the Borneo Orangutan Survival (BOS) Foundation. They are running the rescue and rehabilitation center Samboja Lestari on Borneo, also working with Four Paws.

Here is a video I made at Samboja Lestari to promote BOS and the issue of deforestation because of palm oil:

As a volunteer you have to have a long list of immunizations before you go and are still not allowed to go and hug an orangutan. This has various reasons:

  1. They are much stronger than you and might accidently crush you
  2. You could still bring some kind of disease or just some cold virus that they might not be able to overcome as easily as you do
  3. You wouldn’t want them to become used or even attached to you, as you will be leaving after a few weeks

But as a volunteer you still get to see them a lot and can interact and help them in various ways!


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