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The project is run through a dedicated organization that aims to investigate the special behaviors and ecological conditions necessary to maintain the health of wild orangutans. It strives to create an understanding of the instinctive behaviors of the orangutan species directly related to health and disease, namely parasite ecology, self-medicative behavior, and the effects of human contact on orangutan health. This information directly helps with biodiversity conservation, increasing the success of primate reintroduction programs, and implementing sustainable tourism into the region.

The research this organization conducts is also crucial to increasing public knowledge of orangutans and the threats to their survival, and could potentially develop new ways of managing the threats of disease in wild primate populations.

Location of the Project:  Sumatra, Indonesia
Project length:  13 days
Arrival Airport:  Kuala Namu International Airport (KNO)
Volunteer Work:  Research, observation and data collection
Age:  18 - 80
Number of Volunteers:  1-8 international volunteers
Important Note:  Project Costs: Students with a valid ID may be eligible to receive a student discount on the cost of the project

What's Included

Accommodations:  Basic bamboo huts and rustic tents during overnight treks
Food:  Three meals a day
Airport Transfers:  Airport transfer upon arrival and departure
Support:  Local in-country team and 24-hour emergency support

What's not Included

Flights, travel health insurance, personal expenses, visa (if required)

The project is located on the beautiful island of Sumatra in Indonesia. Sumatra’s tropical rainforests dominate the landscape and contain diverse populations of plant and animal species, including the Sumatran tiger, Sumatran orangutan and dhole, to name a few.

The project base is located in the rice fields of Timbang Lawan, a village in the north of Sumatra. This project also conducts research in Bukit Lawang, Ketambe and Suaq on Sumatra, and Sebangau and Tuanan in Kalimantan.

Volunteer programs run for a 13-day cycle every month. Participants will start with general field and office task orientation, later moving onto more intense activities, such as forest treks and visiting the feeding platform. Depending on the group size and suitable conditions, volunteers will participate in a multi-night jungle trek for observation and data collection purposes.  Alternatively, volunteers will do long day-treks, looking for signs of populations numbers while observing the orangutan in its natural habitat and collecting data on certain behaviors.
It is important to note that there is no physical contact with the orangutans during the expedition.  

Volunteer tasks will include: 

  • Orangutan behavioral data entry
  • Processing (cataloguing, weighing, inventorying) fecal or plant samples
  • Preserving plant samples in our herbarium
  • Preparing new plant samples for our herbarium
  • Shopping for project supplies in town or at the local market
  • Updating weather and climate data
  • Helping with maintenance of headquarters and project equipment 
  • Locating areas with significant wild orangutan populations
  • Finding and following wild orangutans for individual identification and to collect behavioral data.

Internet:  The base has electricity with minimal outages and there is free WiFi available as well.
Laundry:  No laundry facilities are available. Expect to hand wash your clothes.
Accommodations:  On base: While at the research base, you will stay in a very basic, shared bamboo huts. You will be provided with a mattress and a mosquito net, and there is small bathroom with squat toilet facilities (there is no running water). Volunteers are required to wash with cold water and a bucket or in the nearby river. Camping: During longer treks, you will camp in the forest for up to 5 nights, relying on a tarpaulin and a thin pad. Food during this time will be cooked over an open fire and safe drinking water will be collected from the river and boiled.
Food:  Meals are provided three times a day. The food will consist of basic Indonesian cuisine (rice, noodles, vegetables, etc.) with plenty of fruit.

Please take note of the project's minimum requirements:

  • Minimum age 18
  • High level of fitness
  • Ability to work in a team
  • Interest in wildlife conservation
  • Open mindedness and ability to live in basic conditions
  • Ability to adapt to surroundings

The project schedule allows for volunteers to have free time to explore the surrounding area, providing the opportunity to get familiar with the culture and environment. Some of the activities that are available for an additional cost include:

  • River rafting, tubing, kayaking and swimming
  • Cooking classes
  • Massage
  • Elephant trekking
It is also possible to organize a day trip with the staff to see a local school, visit an oil palm plantation, try out traditional bamboo rafting or explore the area on motorbikes.

Volunteer Experiences
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