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GAP YEAR | VOLUNTEER ABROAD | WORK EXPERIENCE OVERSEAS

 

Volunteers' Stories

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AMY MCDANELL
British

Orang-Utan & Sun Bear Conservation at Sepilok Rehabilitation Center in Borneo, Malaysia

         

This project has been worth every penny I spent, but at the same time, the experiences I have gained here cannot be bought with any amount of money. Just spending time with these amazing creatures, from the tiny 1-year-olds in the clinic to seeing the 38-year-old dominant male swing by in the trees is incredible! I have enjoyed every minute and am going to miss the orang-utans, staff, fellow volunteers and the center so incredibly much!

It is nice to feel that we are actually needed at the center and our help contributes toward the orang-utans welfare and rehabilitation. I had an absolutely fantastic time and miss the orang-utans like crazy!!!

What is the best thing about your placement so far?

I enjoyed all three of the orang-utan placements during this project. Rasa Ria was brilliant because you could really get to know each of the 7 orangutans individual personalities. The clinic was just incredible...working with the tiny babies, giving them baths and then seeing just how good they are at climbing despite being pint sized orphans. Also watching the bigger babies during enrichment is fantastic as they are far more adept at climbing and some even begin to build nests and forage for food. It really shows that the rehabilitation scheme is working.

Outdoor nursery was also extremely enjoyable. It is brilliant when we take the orang-utans to Platform 4 deep in the jungle and none follow us back after. It shows that they are getting used to being independent and relying less on the human care they were once so dependent on.

It is also brilliant to be sitting in the jungle surrounded by little orange bodies swinging in the trees. And the best part is knowing they are in protected jungle, so can roam happily and safely. This experience has been the best of my life so far and I can think of many people who would enjoy it as much as I did (but maybe not more than I did...that's impossible! hehe)

What type of person do you think this placement would suit?

I would recommend this project to anyone who is passionate about the conservation of orangutans. You need to be relatively fit due to the hot and humid weather, especially when you are cleaning, working in outdoor and trekking. You also need to be fine with getting dirty as cleaning quarantine can be a less than pleasant experience!

You must also be someone who is willing to let the orang-utans be independent and push them away if they are too clingy. This is for their benefit as becoming too dependent on humans will inevitably be their downfall of their rehabilitation. 

Can you describe a typical day?

Clinic/Indoor Nursery:
Start work at 8am. Check if any orang-utans have diarrhoea...those who do, write their names on the whiteboard. Prepared their morning milk. Those with
diarrhoea have electrolytes instead. Then prepare the food, usually banana for everyone, but apple/orange/bread for those with diarrhoea. Feed all the orang-utans, then give them their drinks afterwards.

Take the big ones to the outdoor cage, except for those who are going to enrichment that day. Clean quarantine and the indoor nursery by sweeping away the food and poo. Then hose it down, dettol it and hose it down again. Put the babies into the outdoor cage and then give a couple of them a bath. Take the big babies out for enrichment where they can explore and climb. Give all orang-utans a snack and water if its especially hot.

After lunch prepare milk for the little babies and electrolyte for the big ones. Clean quarantine and indoor nursery again and then take the little babies out for enrichment. Bring all orang-utans in, clean outdoor cages and give all orang-utans their goodnight feed  Day over around 4:30!

Outdoor Nursery:
Slightly less predictable. Start at 8:15. But usually start by taking orang-utans to platform to feed them. Then go and sweep Platform A (the visitors viewing platform). Then come back and clean outdoor nursery area. In afternoon take all orang-utans to platform 4 and feed them there. Leave them there overnight so they can learn to live in the jungle on their own. Finish anytime between 4 and 5.

Nature Interpretation Center (Rasa Ria):
Start at 7:30. Prepare food for domestic animals and feed them. Clean inside the pantry and around the pantry and clinic. Prepare food for orang-utans. Feed them and clean out night cages with water and dettol. Then prepare food for enrichment. Take 3 orang-utans into enrichment pit for about 1.5 hours. The remaining orang-utans will be taken to the feeding platform.

In the afternoon the same routine would be followed, minus enrichment for the orang-utans and cleaning the day cage instead. You also need to note down which orang-utans were taken into enrichment, how they climbed and how they did with that day's enrichment activity.

At the end of the day you need to count the number of domestic animals to check they are all there. Day ends at 4.00pm.

More Information about your Trip with Travellers

List of ALL PROJECTS in Malaysia
SEPILOK ORANG-UTAN Project in Malaysia
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