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Volunteers' Stories




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


This has been a life changing experience. One that has allowed me to see some fantastic things - the release of the 23 year old male who has been at Sepilok for 8 years, to take 8 month old Orang-Utans to play at the lake, to teach them to climb ropes, to watch the rehabilitated Orang-Utans swing through trees in the forest.  It has been too amazing to put into words.

I have also learnt so much about orang-utans.  I bought a book on them whilst out here but the facts I have learnt from the staff at Sepilok have made me even more passionate about them and their current plight. I have become more sure of who I am as a person and what I want to do with my life.  This placement has given me the perspective I needed.

I honestly cannot praise this placement enough so anything else I can do for you, please just yell. Thank you so much for letting me do this, I have loved every second of it. I started crying about a week ago about leaving so I can't imagine what I am going to be like tomorrow on my last day.

What was the best thing about your placement?

I could not narrow it down to one experience. I just think of certain moments such as bathing Toby who is 5 after one of the others pooed on his head - when am I ever going to get to do that again?!!  Or when we met the minister for Tourism at the handing over of the Land Rover that was bought by the UK Appeal and aided by Land Rover Malaysia.  Or when I got to take the babies onto the ropes and teach them to climb them.  Or just hanging out at Sepilok Jungle Resort with the rest of the volunteers talking about what we had all done that day and what funny things our favourite orang-utans had done.

Would you recommend this placement to anyone else? I would definitely recommend this placement.  I have never had one regret about coming here - only wishing that I could have done it sooner and that it lasted for longer than 2 months!

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

I have really felt this placement has tested my character in many ways so I believe it has to be someone with a strong will and determination.  At times this placement isn't just physically tiring but emotionally tiring as well.  There are days when you are very tired and you must be strong minded enough to work through these days. There were times when I felt suffocated by the environment and the people you are working with but the excitement of working at Sepilok overweighs that enormously.

Obviously, they must love orang-utans and be fully committed to their rehabilitation.  Someone who wants to know more about the conservation efforts and is determined to help in whatever way, even if it is whole days just cleaning buildings. 

On this placement you cannot help but become attached to certain orang-utans and it is incredibly hard to leave and say goodbye - so someone who is emotionally stronger than me as I cried for a week before leaving!!!

Can you think of any improvements that could be made to the placement?

I honestly cannot think of any improvements that can be made.  Everything was wonderful.  The accommodation was a lot better than I had expected it to be, I was so happy to see that we had our own bathroom and air con and to get a TV as well was such a bonus!! 

There were times when I was jungle trekking where I wished I could have been working with the Orang-Utans but that was only because I was tired and then I realised that the work we were doing in the jungle, searching for nests, was aiding the rehabilitation of the orang-utans and evaluating the success of the Center, so very important work.

More Information about your Trip with Travellers

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