Matang Wildlife Centre Volunteer Project - 2 week programme

Travel type
Volunteer Project
Expedition grade

2 weeks Days
Volunteer housing
$2350.00 (AUD)

$2,350 ex Kuching, Malysian Borneo


Matang Wildlife Centre opened in 1997 and is the second rehabilitation centre for orangutan in the state of Sarawak. Its partner, Semenggoh Nature Reserve, opened in 1975 and is a rehabilitation centre for orangutan with currently 20+ individuals living semi-wild, never returning to cages or enclosures and breeding in the trees. However, the carrying capacity of this forested area has long since been reached, which inspired the construction of Matang. Both the animal centres and all the national parks in Sarawak are owned by the government and managed by Sarawak Forestry Corporation.

Matang Wildlife Centre is unique among the orangutan rehabilitation centres of Borneo in that as well as caring for and rehabilitating orangutan, it is also a rescue and rehab centre for any and all protected species. This is a very ambitious mandate for such a centre, and its function as such is not going to be realised without a lot of hard work! However, the potential of Matang to be a conservation tool for endangered species is almost unlimited.   This is why we have been based from here since our work started in Borneo in 2006, and why we continue to need volunteers to help, both physically and financially.

This volunteering program asks for participants who do not mind working incredibly hard and applying themselves to a multitude of different tasks, many of which you will have never done before, perhaps to help animals that you have never heard of! It will be a challenge, but one that you will find hugely worthwhile as many of the tasks you will work on have a very obvious, immediate impact on the welfare of the animals, which you will get to know well.   You will also assist on-going construction projects at the centre, leaving a tangible impact behind you.

For the majority of the construction, local building companies are employed as obviously skilled and experienced workmen are required. Volunteers sometimes assist the local workforce, though more commonly work on separate, independent projects that bring something extra and add value to the site. One of our philosophies is that volunteers on site should only be providing a benefit; they should not be a drain on financial or management resources of the authorities and their presence on site should not have a detrimental impact in any way.   We work very closely with our partners to ensure our vision is shared, but on the ground we operate as independently as possible to provide a positive impact without requiring their management time, which is best spent on their own (rather substantial!) tasks and goals.

Your Role – General Information
To participate on this project, a good level of fitness is required. The work is physical, and the heat and humidity add a challenging extra layer to this. Though there is a working schedule and plan for each volunteer group, please be aware you are coming to an operational rescue and rehabilitation centre, and we cannot predict what may happen each day, with potential new arrivals or any of the current animals under the centre’s care. We ask that volunteers are willing to be flexible, and are tolerant of potential delays in or changes to the planned work as different projects may get re-prioritised.

You will also need patience as you adjust to ‘Borneo time’ – volunteers often come to the project with huge amounts of enthusiasm and energy to plough into the work, which is a massive asset and positively impacts on the energy levels of the full time staff.   However, please be aware that within a four week project, you will simply be adding a helpful and necessary piece to a much larger puzzle, and you should not expect the world of orangutan conservation to make great strides forward in the timeframe of your project.

The Malaysian approach to work is also vastly different from the Western mentality. Speed and efficiency are replaced by relaxation and a distinct lack of urgency, regardless of the importance of the task. You will not change the mind-set of a nation in a short period of time, so please prepare to embrace this cultural difference rather than display frustration and/or incredulity at the local labouring techniques and ethos. Perhaps after a day or two of back-breaking work in 35°C heat, you may come to appreciate the more laid-back, relaxed approach!

Your arrival day – the 2 week project

What to do when you arrive - You will arrive in Kuching the capital of Sarawak Malaysian Borneo. There is no airport tax on arrival or departure that needs to be paid at the airport. These taxes would be paid with the flight ticket.

Volunteers with valid European passport will be given at most 3 months social/holiday visa on arrival – free. Extension can be applied for at Immigration in Malaysia for an extra 30 or 60 days.
Volunteers should avoid mentioning “volunteering”. Though it is not illegal to volunteer, mentioning volunteer work would provoke a lot of confusion at immigration (working for free, let alone paying to work is an utterly strange concept to developing countries), which could result in a very long, unnecessary delay for you!
Volunteers from Europe and US and Australia will not need a letter of invitation from us.
By law volunteers should always have their passports on them or to hand.
When will you be met? We will be picking you up at the airport and failing unforeseen delays, will be awaiting you at the arrivals lounge. We will then drive you to Basaga Holiday Residences, where you will be spending the first night of your trip. You will then have a welcome dinner with us and your fellow volunteers at 6pm. If your flights arrive some days prior please ensure you are at Basaga at this time. Transfer to Matang will happen the following day at around 12pm.

What to do if we don’t meet you?
It is incredibly unlikely that we will not be at the airport, awaiting you in the arrivals lounge. At worst, we may be a little late due to bad traffic or terrible weather. If we are running late though, and you’d like to call us to make sure we’re coming, please use:

(006) 0138456531 for Leo Biddle or
(006) 0148856488 for Natasha Beckerson 


Day 1 (5th & 19th every month)
Arrive to Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo. Transfer to Basaga Lodge, a comfortable and stylish guest house, to meet Orangutan Project staff and your fellow volunteers for a welcome dinner and briefing. Make the most of the hot shower, air conditioning and swimming pool before departing to more simple amenities!

Day 2: Move to Matang!
You will enjoy a catered lunch before being taken on a tour of the park by resident Orangutan Project staff to meet all the animals and start to get to know the resident orangutan. Your day will finish with a trip to the shops for groceries, local SIM cards and anything else you may need for your time at the centre.

Day 3 - 14:  Work!
Much of the work on this project is physical, and the heat and humidity add an extra challenging layer to this. You will be carrying out a variety of tasks including husbandry, construction work, enrichment, maintenance and farming. The ‘best’ jobs are not saved for the volunteers – you are treated as pseudo-staff members for the time you are with us, and wherever you may be useful is where we will task you!

Day 15:  
Onward flights home or continued travel. Transfer to Kuching Airport from Basaga included





Downloadable Brochure** Please check this brochure by clicking onto the Icon on the side of this page. Here you can review the following list of programme information.