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Travellers offers the only opportunity in the world to work at this remarkable, world-renowned Orang Utan Conservation Center at Sepilok, which conducts genuine, highly successful, conservation of Orang Utans.

Orang-Utans are astonishingly gentle, highly intelligent and they gaze at you with almost disconcerting frankness! At Sepilok you'll work with these gentle and highly intelligent red apes in their natural environment. Interaction with these remarkable creatures is unforgettable!

The Orang-Utan is found only in Borneo and Sumatra and their survival is constantly threatened by forest fires, tree felling, poaching and illegal hunting. Work hands-on to help their survival.

List of ALL PROJECTS in Malaysia BOOK NOW

Start Dates Every two months, please see Project Start Dates under "Work Content". This is a very popular project, so we advise you book very early.
Duration 8 weeks, fixed length. Shorter/longer placements are not possible.
Requirements No qualifications needed, just lots of enthusiasm.
You should be physically fit and able to trek up to 5 kilometres on uneven terrain in humid conditions.
Minimum age 17.
Price Full Price List
What's included Arranging your Program,
Full pre-departure support and assistance,
Payment Protection insurance
Meeting you at the nearest airport/station
Return transfer to the airport
All accommodation
Transfer to the placement site
In-country team support and backup
24-hr emergency support
Return flight from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan
Sandakan Tour (subject to change)
2 Free T-Shirts
Adoption of an Orang Utan
Certificate of Completion.
What's not included Flights, Insurance, Cost of Visa.
Who can do this Project? This project is open to all nationalities and all ages over 18, unless accompanied by a parent or guardian

Suitable for gap years or those taking a year out, grown-up gappers, career breakers, anyone interested in conservation and caring for animals and working with wildlife overseas.
Suitable if you want to learn about nurturing, rehabilitation and conservation of orang-utans, plus animal care with orang utans, voluntary work with primates, projects abroad or study abroad.

May also be suitable for university credit or requirement


  • An exciting, never-to-be-forgotten adventure into Asia and Malaysian culture!

  • The enormous satisfaction of helping to improve the quality of life of elephants by working hands-on with them, and knowing that you made a difference to them.

  • New skills, more confidence, a greater understanding of a different culture, invaluable personal and professional development.

  • An entry on your CV or résumé that will put you head and shoulders above most others in the job market.

  • And best of all ... an unforgettable experience!
A date for your diary!
Sepilok Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre are at the forefront of Orang-utan conservation, rescuing orphaned and abandoned babies and returning them to the wild. This amazing Centre will be featured in an 8 part TV series, called "Meet the Orang-utans", being shown on Animal Planet.


Specific duties may vary depending on what is required at the time, so a degree of flexibility is required. During your placement it is likely that you will; 

  • Learn about managing juvenile Orang-Utans by working at the Outdoor Nursery.

  • Learn about managing baby Orang-Utans by working at the Indoor Nursery.

  • Conduct a Field Survey on the Orang-Utan population and small mammals witin Sepilok reserve.

Work will be done on a rotational basis, with different groups of volunteers working within each of the different departments outlined above. The tasks that you are asked to do, no matter how small, will help to improve the day to day life for these Orang-Utans - you will gain great satisfaction knowing that you have contributed to this. This is a serious placement where you are doing meaningful conservation work. You will be required to work very hard and should have a high level of fitness in order to take part.

At times you will be supervised by staff at the center, at other times you will be required to work independently. 

"We worked so hard there and tried to make such a difference and have an impact on all their lives, which we obviously achieved. We bought towels to make hammocks for the Orang-Utans in their cages as they had nothing. Just to go in each morning and see them curled up in them was rewarding!"

Indoor Nursery:
This area looks after the infants, from just a few months to around four years old. The babies stay in the sleeping area. Possible duties include:

  • Transfer of the Infant Orang-Utan from the sleeping cages to the playing cages.
    Cleaning the sleeping area

  • Preparation of food for the infants (peeling bananas, making formula milk)

  • Feeding the babies bottled formula drink

  • Distributing bananas to the infant Orang-Utans

  • Caring for the sick infants

  • Transferring Orang-Utans back to the sleeping cages

  • Cleaning the Indoor nursery area

Outdoor Nursery:
This area is home to the juveniles, generally aged between five and eight years old. During the evening the Orang-Utans spend the night in the cages, but during the daytime they are left outdoors to fend for themselves. These Orang-Utans are fed twice daily, at five different platforms. Platform one is for new graduates, whilst platforms 2-5 are for the seniors of the class! The feeding platform varies daily, at the Rangers discretion, to teach the Orang-Utan to search for their own food. This ensures the Orang-Utan do not become reliant on food being at a particular platform each day. Possible duties include:

  • Preparation of milk

  • Assisting the rangers by carrying the milk and bananas to the platform

  • Cleaning out the cages

  • Observation of the juvenile Orang-Utans.

Field Survey within Sepilok Reserve:
With the assistance of a ranger, you will be required to undertake an observation of the Orang-Utan population within the 4500 Hectare reserve. You will receive a lecture on the methodology of observation and data recording prior to the commencement of the task. You will be required to count and record the number of individual Orang-Utan sightings as well as the number of nests throughout the Sepilok forest area.

Similar duties will also be carried out for individual platforms, where you will be required to note the number of Orang-Utans, sex ratios and where possible, identify individual Orang-Utan from their ID number or name.

In order to apply for a place on this project you should be able to meet the following criteria:

  • You should be physically fit and able to trek up to 5 kilometres on uneven terrain. You'll be working as part of a team that will be conducting physical work in hot and humid conditions, so every member of the team needs to be equally fit.

  • Be able to cope in a tropical environment where there are large insects, snakes, bugs and leeches. If you are squeamish about insects then this is NOT the placement for you.

  • Have a genuine interest in Wildlife and the rehabilitation process and respect that Orang-Utans are an endangered species whose eventual release into the wild is the ultimate goal of the program. 

  • Have the right attitude regarding wildlife conservation and foreign culture.


  • There are a maximum of twelve places per two month expedition. 

  • All volunteers must arrive in time for the Induction with Travellers Organiser (dates will be specified by Travellers). Unfortunately late arrivals cannot be accepted onto the project. 

  • Please be aware that you will not be allowed to take any photos of yourself with the Orang-utans behind the scenes at Sepilok. All cameras are banned behind the scenes - the photos on this page are merely to show the type of activities that you'll be doing.  

The following are included in the cost of your placement at Sepilok, but are subject to confirmation and individual elements may change:

  • Rainforest Carbon Offset Project (includes tree planting, lake cruise, wildlife viewing, dinner and overnight stay in a jungle camp).

  • A return domestic flight from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan

  • Sandakan Tour around places of local interest.

  • 2 Travellers T-Shirts (to be worn as a work uniform).

  • Adoption of one of the baby Orang-Utan's at Sepilok for one year, including photos and a certificate. Details of the Orang-Utan that has been adopted for you will be sent to you prior to your departure.

Please note, below are project dates and not availability dates, so please contact us regarding current availability. Spaces go quickly, so please enquire early!

2015 Project Dates:
5th January - 1st March 2015
2nd March - 26th April 2015
4th May - 28th June 2015
6th July - 30th August 2015
7th September -1st November 2015
2nd November - 27th December 2015

2016 Project Dates:
4th January - 28th February 2016
7th March - 1st May 2016
2nd May - 26th June 2016
4th July - 28th August 2016
5th September - 30th October 2016
7th November 2016 - 1st January 2017

2017 Project Dates:
2nd January - 26th February 2017
6th March – 30th April 2017
1st May – 25th June 2017
3rd July - 27th August 2017
4th September - 29th October 2017
6th November - 31st December 2017

“Life is wonderful and job satisfaction immense!! My first 9 day rotation is in the outdoor nursery, looking after the 3-7yr olds, equivalent to truculent teenagers - full of hormones, who really don't want to do as they are told. These teenagers are being prepared for release, and so it's rather 'tough love', we are discouraged from contact and are actively encouraging independence. It was dry enough to take them to the jungle gym today. It was incredible to see them climbing to great heights with not a backward glance or trace of fear. It's all the more amazing as these youngsters have been orphaned at ages of no more than a few months and have not benefited from their mothers tuition.

It's amazing how quickly you become accustomed  to being surrounded by orang-utans!  It is so magical, they are amazing creatures, so intelligent and such different characters. It quite takes my breath away when these
little 'people' put their hand in yours and just study you intently” 

 Debbie Mayne on her placement at Sepilok

Preparing food for the Orang Utans


Teaching an Orang to climb


Accommodation at Sepilok will be in the nearby Sepilok Rest House.
This is a privately run Bed and Breakfast which comprises basic but clean facilities.
The Sepilok Rest House is located at the entrance to the Orang-Utan center and just a few minutes walk from here takes you to the edge of the tropical virgin rainforest and a wide expanse of lush jungle.

Volunteers share rooms (usually two or three to a room) and food will be provided at the Rest House.

The owner (Mr Chong) and his staff are very friendly and will ensure that you are made to feel at home! 


Food is provided on this project.


Got any questions? Please email us: info@travelersworldwide.org

Orang-Utans (in Malay "man of the forest") are protected under the Fauna Conservation Ordinance which, among other things, prohibits hunting, trading or keeping them as pets.  

The Orang-Utan Rehabilitation Center is situated on the east coast of Sabah, 23 km from Sandakan. A twenty-minute drive from Sandakan brings you to Kabili-Sepilok Forest, an enormous area of virgin rainforest. The wealth of indigenous and rare plants, animals and birds that have found sanctuary here must be seen to be believed. The Wildlife Reserve contains the Orang-Utan rehabilitation center.

Sepilok center was established in 1964 to return orphaned apes back to the wild. The objectives of the project have expanded in recent years and while Orang-Utan rehabilitation is still the primary goal at Sepilok, present aims include public education on conservation and research with other endangered species. The center now has more than 37 staff looking after the welfare of the Orang-Utans.

When the rescued Orang-Utans first arrive at the center, they are often in a sorry state and riddled with diseases. They are put into cages while they're treated for their ailments and nursed back to health. The wardens then teach them how to forage for fruit, climb trees and generally fend for themselves. When they are mid-way through the rehabilitation process they are released into the surrounding forest reserve. The animals then spend most of their time in the forest but often return to one of the center's five feeding platforms for a “free” meal. When the wardens feel that that an Orang-Utan is fully rehabilitated, it is caught and returned to the wild - usually deep in the forest or to one of the National Parks or Wildlife Sanctuaries.

Mangrove Forest Trail - This is the most famous trail in the Sepilok Center and takes about 2-3 hours walking one way.  Interesting features include a scenic stream, water-holes, transitional forest, pristine lowland rain forest, boardwalks into the mangrove forest and wildlife tracks.

"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 had been at Sepilok for 8 years, taking 8 month old orang utans to play at the lake, teaching them to climb ropes, watching the rehabilitated orang utans swing through trees in the forest. It has been too amazing to put into words."

We adopt an Orang Utan for each volunteer through the  Orangutan Appeal, a charity dedicated to the rehabilitation and preservation of these wonderful animals.

Please note that this project is extremely popular, so very early booking is strongly advised.

Once you have applied for a placement, we'll contact you and send you our Welcome Pack. You'll also receive Log-on details and password for our Volunteer Extranet where you'll have access to all the documentation and information which we've put together to facilitate preparations for your adventure!

Your Project Co-ordinator for your country will liaise with you throughout the arrangements process, as well as while you're on your placement and on your return home.

The documents you'll have access to also include a Country Factfile, Safety Guide and any manuals that may assist you on your particular program (e.g. Teaching Guide, Sports Manuals, Enrichment Suggestions for Animal Care, etc.). We do all we can to make your stay one that you'll never forget. This is a truly awesome, elegant and beautiful country.

As with all our destinations, the culture and heritage is different to what you're used to ... which, although one of the most exciting aspects of travelling, should be borne in mind.    Self-reliance and independence are highly appreciated in all our destinations and will help you to make the most of this wonderful opportunity! 

On Arrival, your Introduction to the Country:

When you arrive, you will be welcomed by Ronn. She is the Volunteer Co-ordinator, assisting Albert, our Malaysia Manager. Ronn will take you to your accommodation in Kota Kinabalu, where you will spend the first couple days of your trip. She will show you the nearby facilities such as banks, pharmacy, food and beverage outlets etc.

Whilst in Kota Kinabalu, Albert will give you an evening induction (so you will be free to do some activities during the daytime). He will talk about your role and responsibilities as a conservation volunteer, so that you can make the most of this project.

When you reach Sepilok, you will receive an induction from Sabah Wildlife Department, who run the Sepilok Orang-Utan center. This induction will include a briefing on the project in detail, ready for you to start work with the Orang-Utans at the beginning of week 2.

Our projects in Malaysia (particularly the Orang-Utan center) are very popular and you are sure to have a wonderful time during your stay in Sabah.
 Your adventure has begun :-)


Feedback on the Sepilok Orang Utan Conservation Project in Malaysia

Facts on Malaysian Food

Volunteers and Staff at Sepilok practice monkeying around on the climbing ropes!

Travellers' Malaysia Manager Albert and friends!
Travellers' Malaysia Manager Albert and friends!


While on your placements, you can also book some Optional Add-Ons to make the most of your Travel Experience.

PADI Open Water Diving Courses
Climb Mount Kinabalu Excursion
Day Tours around Borneo
Turtles and Primates Excursion

This project can also be combined with any of our other projects in Malaysia, Thailand or South-East Asia - thus doubling your adventure and enjoyment! Our recommended comindations are Thailand or Sri Lanka, Malaysia or the Pandas in China!


The nearest town to Sepilok is Sandakan where you can find internet cafes, banks, shops and markets. There are also many historical sights in Sandakan, some of which you will have the opportunity to visit during the first week of your placement. One of these is the Australian War Memorial, built in memory of those who sacrificed their lives during World War II.

Sukau and the region of the Lower Kinabatangan River is unrivalled in terms of wildlife. It stretches for 560 km and is estimated to have the highest concentration of wildlife in all of Malaysia. Taking a river cruise gives you the opportunity to see a variety of animals in their natural environment; birds, reptiles and monkeys of which the most unusual is the Proboscis Monkey. Famous for its long nose and round belly, the proboscis monkey is sociable and active, which means that you are sure to see many of them swinging through the trees along the river bank. 

If you are lucky, you many even see a herd of pygmy elephants grazing and drinking water by the river bank. This unique environment is a fascinating place to visit and is only about 2 hours drive from Sepilok.

If you are even lucker, you may see wild boar crossing the river. This unique environment is a fascinating place to visit and is not far away from Sandakan.

Other attractions are the Puh Jih Syh Temple, the biggest and most expensive temple in Sabah that overlooks Sandakan Bay, the Sim Sim Water Village and the Rotary Observation Pavilion which contains a birds-eye view of Sandakan town.

From the harbour area boat trips to Selingan (Turtle) island and Langakayan can be arranged, although most trips are not possible in a day and instead visitors usually stay overnight.

"Just reporting in after a full week of work and it is absolutely fantastic! I was working in the outdoor nursery last week and fell in love with all of the orang-utans, especially Angkong!  It was wonderful seeing them climbing. The highlight of my week was when a mum and baby came into the nursery and she took a bunch of bananas out of my hand - amazing." Karen Herring on her placement at Sepilok.


Kota Kinabalu, or "KK" (as it is locally known), is the capital of Sabah. KK is home to the International airport and this will be your first point of arrival in Sabah - it is a great place to start your trip and get used to the Malaysian way of life.

Although Kota Kinabalu is far less developed than Kuala Lumpur (its counterpart on the Peninsular), the people are very friendly and the atmosphere here is more relaxed. KK also boasts impressive markets, restaurants and nightlife and is a fun introduction to the wide variety of attractions that Sabah has to offer.  

Just off the coast it is possible to see an array of beautiful islands which make up the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. Exploring the coral reefs and marine life in this underwater world is fascinating and day trips here can be easily arranged - most islands are less than 45 minutes away by boat. Once you arrive you will be amazed at how clear the water is and just how many different fish you can see. There are also many wonderful beaches to be explored on the islands!   

Facing inland, it’s possible to see the peaks of Mount Kinabalu in the distance. This is another of Sabah’s main attractions and the views from the top at Sun rise more than make up for the two day climb. Afterwards you can soak your aching muscles at Poring where the sulphur hot springs provide a therapeutic bath.

Throughout the whole of Sabah you will find many local "Tamu", meaning market - the variety of fruit, vegetables, plants and handcrafted items on sale at cheap prices has to be seen to be believed!

To read about Travel arrangements and what happens when you arrive in your new country, please click here.

Support & Backup: To read about the excellent Support & Backup we provide before you leave and during your program, please click here.


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Hands-on care for elephants – an opportunity to help the elephants and learn a lot about their wonderful natures and characteristics.
You’ll help rehabilitate orphaned, injured, abused or abandoned animals, including many monkeys. You’ll assist in various duties from feeding to building cages to assisting in rescues and releases. A fantastic center and place for true animal lovers.