Wildlife conservation in Borneo

“Contribute to extraordinary wildlife conservation in Sabah rainforest of Malaysian Borneo, along the Kinabatangan River. See orangutans, pygmy elephants, proboscis monkeys and more. Stay in community accommodation.”


Wildlife conservation project | Sabah wildlife |Sandakan | Orang Sungai community | Kinabatangan river | Tree planting and habitat restoration | Orangutans | Pygmy elephants | Proboscis monkeys | macaques

Description of Wildlife conservation in Borneo

By volunteering on a wildlife conservation project in Borneo, you will discover one of the most beautiful and undiscovered pockets of the island, stepping off the beaten track and into the heart of an important conservation area. Help to conserve a proliferation of wildlife including orangutans, pygmy elephants, proboscis monkeys, macaques, singing gibbons and sun bears – not to mention the birds! –through protecting and regenerating their jungle environment.

Habitat destruction has led to a rapid decline in many of Borneo's species. This inspiring project helps in a twofold way:

1) Planting trees to regenerate the jungle. Increased jungle coverage means that more creatures can live and survive in the wild. This involves planting trees, clearing weeds and growing saplings. This is incredibly rewarding, as just after a few short hours you will see the amazing work that you have done.

2) Spend time out on the beautiful river, monitoring the wildlife that you see in the area from the boat. Sightings are noted down, and the information shared with the local wildlife authorities. Seeing orangutans swinging through the trees, elephants grazing and macaques leaping through the branches is quite incredible. This is crucial work so that it is understood how many species are in the area, and in what sort of quantities - and thus help preserve the area's conservation status.

In addition to these principal daily activities, other tasks and activities can include community and education, a jungle trek and a visit to the world famous Sepilok orangutan rehabilitation centre.

Accommodation and food
You will be staying in local guest houses throughout this project. Meals are provided either by your guest house hosts or by members of the local community. Food is delicious and varied.

Expect to share an en-suite room with one volunteer.

Day-by-day itinerary

Day 1:Arrive to Sandakan on the 21st of the month. On arrival you will spend your first night in a lovely rainforest guest house on the outskirts of Sandakan. You will be staying in a traditional longhouse, with a balcony that looks out over the jungle and with a series of lakes just a few minutes away. A delicious welcome dinner is provided by the guest house, and you can relax to the noises of the jungle with the rest of your group.
Day 2:Transfer to the small village of the Orang Sungai people, located on the Kinabatangan river. Stay in a riverside guesthouse, sharing a basic yet comfortable room with at least one other volunteer. An en suite bathroom is shared between you and your room mate(s) with a western toilet and refreshing shower.
Day 3 +:Spend your days out on the river monitoring wildlife and helping with rainforest regeneration work.
Day 12:Leave the beautiful river behind and head back to Sandakan via the inspiring Sepilok wildlife rehabilitation centre

Hello. If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.

01273 823 700

Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Wildlife conservation in Borneo


Our placements are designed to immerse you in a different culture, living and working with local people. There’s plenty to gain personally from this, but we make sure that the project directly benefits local people and wildlife too.

Wildlife - Borneo is a popular country to visit due to its diversity and beauty. Unfortunately development and agriculture have had a negative impact on some areas. We work hard to promote habitats for wildlife through planting trees and cultivating jungle. Wildlife numbers and populations are monitored to help maintain the area in which we work as a conservation area. Animals currently being protected are orangutans, pygmy elephants, proboscis monkeys, macaques, hornbills, sun bears and much more!

Waste- all participants are encouraged to bring a flask with them to avoid the over-reliance on plastic water bottles, which are not easy to dispose of environmentally. We work to free the land of any rubbish in areas in which we are working.

Conservation- we make sure that we plant trees, clear areas overtaken by foreign weeds and promote environmental development in all of the locations in which we work.

Environmental commitment- our company is an environmentally responsible one that operates recycling and reusing of waste products. We also offset carbon emissions in our office (gas, electricity, business mileage) and encourage all participants to offset their flight emissions via a carbon offset scheme run in conjunction with Tree Aid.


Meeting local needs - We work with locals throughout the community to ensure that volunteer presence will benefit a larger group of people. Locals will drive the boats, provide meals and accommodation, give tours and drive vehicles for the volunteers. Many locals have even started helping out in the conservation efforts too. There is an education programme run in the local school to encourage youngsters to protect their natural environment and its biodiversity.

You will be staying in local guest houses throughout this project. Meals are provided either by your guest house hosts or by members of the local community, thus helping to ensure that money earned stays within the local community.

Cultural sensitivity - We emphasise the importance of showing respect for local people and their customs in our briefing material. It is important to us that participants work well with the teams in Borneo, and we help them as much as we can with this. We get to know all of the people that go away with us, so that we know as much as we can about them to give them a warm welcome on arrival. Volunteers are made aware of religious and cultural differences to help respect and abide by these.

2 Reviews of Wildlife conservation in Borneo

4.5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 05 Apr 2018 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Working in a tropical downpour and seeing a mother and baby Orangutang climbing a tree near the work site.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Don't really need to bring wellies. Bring a good pair of binoculars and don't forget the Jungle Formula bug repellent.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes. Contact with local people, particularly the afternoon spent with students in the school talking about conservation issues. Hopefully the 140 trees we planted will benefit the wildlife in about 20 years time.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

An interesting and insightful look at conservation in Sabah, Borneo. A bit short though - two full weeks would be better.

Reviewed on 06 Mar 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Seeing a large wild male Orangutan eating figs in a tree by the Kinabatangan River - we were so close to him and he looked so relaxed! What a beautiful special creature.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Get fit before going! The machete for me was hard to master and the heat and humidity make physical work more demanding. Thinking about future generations of orangutans swinging and feeding from the trees that we would be planting was my inspiration to carry on when I felt that I was beyond exhaustion!! Take a travel plug so you can wash your clothes as you will get very dirty! Also good binoculars are essential to participate fully in the wildlife monitoring - its so much fun and when you can identify species for yourself (especially if you can find them before eagle eyed Mark!) it's really rewarding.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Definitely yes. The community day and eating with locals, as well as the boats being captained by locals, made sure that they knew what we were doing and why. It provides jobs for local people. Seeing trees planted 4 years ago now being visited by elephants, as evidence by their dung and rub marks on the trees indicates that this planting is working and that is very inspiring for me.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

A fabulous experience. APE Malaysia who run this project are an organisation that I can highly recommend. Mark Louis Benedict who led the project that I was on is a hugely knowledgeable and passionate person, for whom no question raised was too much trouble to answer. He went to considerable effort to make sure we saw as much wildlife as possible and explained in detail to us the challenges that Borneo faces to preserve is remnant rainforests. If you care about this precious environment and the creatures that make it their home please do this holiday!

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