Samboja Lestari is an area of restored tropical rainforest near the city of Balikipapan in East Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. Established by the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOS), the 2,000 hectare orangutan sanctuary here was created with the aim of providing a safe haven for rehabilitated orangutans, whilst at the same time providing a source of income for local people.
Since 2001, the surrounding area has been planted with more than a million trees covering more than 1000 different species. With the growth of the forest, the density and diversity of wildlife returned. So far 137 bird species and nine primate species have been recorded.
Several Forest Schools built here provide natural, educational playgrounds for the orangutans in which to learn forest skills before returning to cages to sleep at night. A new Clinic and Quarantine area has also been established as well as many new forest cages for larger orangutans and a Babies’ Room for the little ones. Six orangutan islands have also been created to accommodate orangutans suffering chronic hepatitis B or other disabilities which prevent them from ever being released into the wild. What’s more, there is an area designated solely to house a population of over 40 sun bears.
Your work as a volunteer on this orangutan project will be to help rehabilitate these orangutans and sunbears and help with enrichment, husbandry and general sanctuary upkeep.
Helpful Project Information
Orangutan island observation to collect vital behavioural data and monitor the health and behaviour of the orangutans. This is done by doing a circuit of the orang-utan islands on a small boat, offering great chances for some beautiful photographs.
Creating enrichment to stimulate and benefit those orangutans resident within enclosures, whilst also helping to encourage natural behaviour. You will also be preparing the food and delivering this into the cages for the orangutan islands.
Cleaning the orangutan cages and the fruit store where food for the orangutans and sun bears is prepared.
Leaf collection (for the orangutans to build their nests). This will involve regular treks out into the jungle – make sure you have packed your walking boots!
Construction and Maintenance
Any construction or repair work which may need to be done – depending on the needs of the sanctuary. Please note that maintenance and construction are on-going tasks at the centre, and always require orangutan volunteers to help out. You may be involved with the building/maintenance of orangutan cages (after the quarantine period), the maintenance of the rainforest environment and the upkeep of the sunbear enclosures. Maintenance is a continuous task of painting, cleaning, varnishing and gardening – there is always work to be done and you will be helping wherever it is needed!
Working with the Sun Bears
You will also be able to work within the sunbear area during your time here, where around 50 sunbears reside. Helping with enrichment and general enclosure maintenance will be the main activities you will be involved with whilst working alongside these magnificent bears – one of the world’s rarest bear species.
During your time here, you will also be able to have periods where you have time off away from project work. During this time, you will be able to visit Balikpapan and have much needed lie-ins as well as go on fantastic boat excursions along the black river. These trips are a fantastic chance to see the iconic proboscis monkey species as well as a typical Indonesian fishing village.
A popular excursion from the centre. Volunteers will have the opportunity to walk high up in the forest canopy, keeping their eyes peeled for all kinds of fauna and flora. There may be even be the chance to spot a pair of singing gibbons!
A wonderfully relaxing afternoon is spent on the black river. Volunteers will board a local boat and travel along the winding river in search of the endangered proboscis monkey famous for its oversized nose. During your journey you will travel through a local fishing village, which will offer you the chance to see how local people lived and then we will travel briefly out to sea where we will watch the sun set.