Orangutan Project

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We are a non-profit conservation company based on Borneo. We seek to develop alternative and sustainable revenue sources for our in situ conservation and animal welfare work, and one avenue we excel in is responsible volunteering, tourism and education products.
Member since: 23 Sep 2016

How the minimum criteria of the responsible travel standard was met...

Economic responsibility

We are a non-profit group entirely. Through some of our revenue streams we do also donate to other groups whose goals are in line with our own.

We run a volunteering project at Matang Wildlife Centre (which Responsible Travel already list on your website, though you list it as promoted through the UK travel agency, The Great Projects, rather than with us, the group that actually manage and run the project on the ground), one at the Ketapang Orangutan Centre and are just launching one in Batang Ai national park in Sarawak.

On our existing volunteer projects, 75% of the fee we receive from the travel agents is spent at the centres where the project is based (so can be categorised as ‘donation’) and 25% is spent on the volunteer themselves. We have long term Western staff who assist with the facilitation of our projects and these members of staff are working voluntarily. We also have a team of local staff at each of our locations who are employed on generous salaries as we wish to popularise working in conservation among the communities local to our project sites.

At our most established project (Matang Wildlife Centre) we are currently spending roughly £15,000 a month on employment of local staff, food for the animals, veterinary care, building materials, a construction team with associated tools and the majority of this money comes from our volunteer project at this centre. At the Ketapang Orangutan Centre (the centre itself is managed by International Animal Rescue, we are partnered with them to facilitate the volunteer project and assist when required) we have currently donated close to £250,000 to IAR to assist them with conservation goals such as land purchases, orangutan rescues and translocations, equipment they need etc.

At our new project in Batang Ai we will at least match our current proportions of volunteers’ money (75/25 split between the project and their logistical cost) but anticipate spending more on the project, at least for the first few months, as there are expensive construction jobs that are required and we are also investing in technology to camera trap areas of the park to monitor wildlife.

Environmental responsibility

One of our goals is to contribute meaningfully, both through our own work and the financial support of others, to conservation and animal welfare efforts on Borneo. We work closely with the authorities in Sarawak and provide financial and consultative support to them. At Matang Wildlife Centre we manage a team of local staff who monitor and track released wildlife from this rescue centre (all of the technology required we have also provided). At Matang itself we take care of the animals’ needs on a daily basis, through our volunteering program and also through the local staff we have employed to work at this centre. Our project in Batang Ai national park aims to assist the state’s own goal of improving the conservation efforts in this area by providing them any necessary manpower in the form of paid local staff and paying Western volunteers and also providing them with financial contributions where required. Our work in this national park will be the first of its kind undertaken there, and anything we can find out about resident wildlife, areas that the animals live, what species are within etc will strengthen the fight to conserve the area.

We do not have an office. Our administration team is made of one member of staff with a laptop, working from a small wooden house in Matang Wildlife Centre on Borneo. Therefore we do not have a need to implement office recycling schemes, car shares or energy efficiency. The whole philosophy of our organisation is to waste as little as possible; rather than employ admin staff, leading to a need for office space, leading to a need to consider how to make that office environmentally friendly, we work with the bare minimum – 1 person, 1 laptop, 1 desk and a fan.

At the moment, our volunteering projects are based at 2 of the orangutan centres on Borneo. From inception over 10 years ago, Orangutan Project has championed a ‘No Contact Policy’ with the animals at this centre, and for volunteer projects involving wildlife at large. The document we created is both specific to our projects and also advises potential volunteers on what they should be mindful of when booking other projects offering close encounters or contact with animals, especially baby animals. Our policy is available on our website if you would like to read it in full.
http://projectorangutan.com/about-us/no-contact-policy/

Our company is a local project with environmental benefits, so of course we want people to visit us! This is the reason we would like to be listed on your website.

Social responsibility

We already run a tour through Sarawak, which connects the participants to many different local communities in this area. We contribute financially to each of the communities that we visit and employ people that reside there to help with work generated by our groups (boat drivers, cooks, housekeeping etc). However, we do not ask that these communities do anything in return to ‘entertain’ our groups. Our groups simply stay with the community for a couple of nights and live as they do. There are no performances or forced socialisations – if they wish to spend time with each other and communicate, they are free to initiate this.

Through our tours, volunteering projects and education programs we are running a number of local projects, so of course participants will visit/spend time on those.

We provide thorough pre-departure information to anyone booked on our trips. This information is available to be downloaded from our website freely, whether someone has already booked a trip or is simply considering their options. The full information for the project at Batang Ai National Park, which we are initially interested in listing on Responsible Travel, can be found here:
http://projectorangutan.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Batang-Ai-Volunteer-Project-KGYG.pdf

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