There's been a lot in the news lately about orangutans, thanks to Iceland (and Greenpeace's) lovely banned advert about palm oil. In case you've been living under a stone, the ad highlights the effects of habitat destruction caused by the consumer demand for palm oil.
So if that's tugged at your heartstrings and you want to help orangutans, you can do that by not buying products with palm oil, and by sharing the plight of these creatures. You can also donate to one of the orangutan or wildlife conservation charities.
But if you want to do more, why not do a volunteer placement with orangutans? Not only is it a truly worthwhile experience, you will learn a huge amount, plus you will see exactly where your money is going.
Here is our experts' pick of volunteer placements where you can work directly with orangutans.
2 or 4 weeks volunteering with orangutans (organisation vetted and approved by us)
You'll be working in all aspects of orangutan care on this project, including maintenance, cleaning, feeding and entertaining - the orangutans as well as yourself! You'll also do general conservation work - an important part of this sustainable project. There are other rescued animals at the sanctuary you can work with, like sun bears and turtles, and you'll find no 2 days are the same! It's hard work but you get rewarded by knowing you're helping these animals - and their environment - for years to come.
Oyster Worldwide (one of our partners) also do projects in wildlife conservation and working with bears in Borneo and you can get £200 one of these projects if you do one before or after your orangutan volunteering.
8-week volunteer and trekking experience
This is project combines lots of different volunteer experiences in both Borneo (where you can meet orangutans) and the Philippines. There's community development and teaching along with the wildlife conservation, plus you get to do lots of trekking and experience a jungle safari. There's an element of cultural exchange too, which is ideal for the career breaker wanting to learn as they travel.
2 to 8 weeks volunteering at a wildlife sanctuary (organisation vetted and approved by us)
This project is on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi and houses other animals as well as orangutans. Exactly which animals will depend on what has been rescued and released. Your tasks will vary by day and according to need, but will usually involve feeding and caring for the animals, as well as maintaining their environment. It's hard work but you'll get time off for chilling at the beach!
2 to 12 weeks volunteering at a centre for rescued wildlife (organisation vetted and approved by us)
This project is in Indonesia and you will be working with all kinds of other animals as well as orangutans. The centre takes in animals that have been trafficked through the illegal wildlife trade and the aim is to rehabilitate and release them. They can't always be released so some will stay in the centre, and that's one reason volunteers like you are so important, as it helps sanctuaries like this survive! You will be providing food, fresh water and enrichment for the orangutans and whatever other animals might be there at the time, plus you may find you need to do cleaning and maintenance of their enclosures. You will learn a great deal about caring for wild animals and about wildlife conservation.
6-month project assistant roles
This is in Sumatra rather than Borneo and is for career breakers with a degree and relevant experience. You must commit to working in Indonesia for six months, and be willing to learn the local language. There's a lot more office and management work than working directly with the orangutans, but you will get to join your fellow volunteers on treks into the forest.
3 weeks working with orangutans in their natural habitat (organisation vetted and approved by us)
Unlike some of the other volunteer placements, this one involves going out into the forest where the orangutans live, rather than working in a sanctuary or rescue centre. There's a lot of construction work involved, and while contact with the orangutans is not allowed, photographing them is encouraged! You'll be working with local experts in conservation and will learn an incredible amount from living and working in the forest.
Please note: this project is run by The Orangutan Foundation (based in the UK) not the Orangutan Foundation International. The International one is not currently recruiting volunteers.