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.
What's not Included
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.
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
- Elephant trekking