6 Incredible Wildlife Volunteer Programs In Southeast Asia That Will Change Your Life Buy Buy Buy

If you’re looking for glamour and indulgence, we promise you will be sorely disappointed.

And as an animal lover, learning about the plight of the world’s wildlife – what with deforestation and the proliferation of illegal wildlife trade – never fails to break my heart and at the same time make my blood boil. But recently, while watching Racing Extinction, I came across a profoundly compelling and meaningful quote that has since changed my perspective in every way:

It’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”

Instead of spewing hatred towards mankind for inflicting needless pain on animals (yes, the human race included), it’s infinitely better to channel that rage into positive actions by helping the helpless, one step at a time. Whether you’re actively reading up on the threats and problems surrounding wildlife, having an open discussion with friends about wildlife conservation issues, or even sharing related links on social media, every little bit counts.

If you are able to, one of the best things you can do is volunteer at a wildlife sanctuary. There are plenty of wildlife sanctuaries in Asia that aim to protect the wildlife from the alarmingly high rates of illegal wildlife trade in the region while providing a safe haven for the animals. One notable sanctuary is Matang Wildlife Centre in Sarawak, which cares for orangutans as well as several other wildlife species. According to Orangutan Project, a conservation company that is committed to helping Matang Wildlife Centre see through its objectives, this volunteer stint is not for people whose dream is to “hold a baby orangutan”. “We are aware that to give rescued orang-utan the best chance of rehabilitation, they need to remain as far removed from people as possible. Having these animals exposed to mass market tourism and countless volunteers only serves to decrease their chance of returning once again to life in the trees. We believe that volunteer projects with a stated mission to help these endangered animals should do just that, and not simply provide photo opportunities for Western visitors, ” states the Project Ethos on the website. Bravo!

Read on to find out more about the volunteer programs available at Matang Wildlife Centre and other wildlife sanctuaries in Southeast Asia.

Matang Wildlife Centre in Sarawak

Owned by the Sarawak government and managed by Sarawak Forestry Corporation, Matang Wildlife Centre is one of the more renowned rescue centres on the island of Borneo. Apart from rehabilitating orangutans, the centre also rehabs and releases many other kinds of wildlife such as sun bears and crocodiles. During your volunteer stint (either 14 days or 28 days), you can expect to carry out some heavy tasks including construction work and farming.

Click here for more information.

A photo posted by Morghan (@morghan_wale) on


Tasikoki Wildlife Rescue Centre in Sulawesi Island, Indonesia

When Sulawesi was identified as a thriving cross-border trading hub for illegal wildlife and wildlife products, the Tasikoki Wildlife Rescue Centre was set up on the island with the aim of tackling this horrific issue. The centre houses a few wildlife species such as orangutans, sun bears, babirusa and cassowary. You can choose to volunteer for two weeks or several months, and duties include maintenance and feeding.

Click here for more information.


Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre in Cambodia

This rescue centre houses more than 120 bears that were rescued from poachers, the black market, the bile farm industry, and the entertainment industry. The people running it have made it very clear on their website that volunteers will not be able to be in direct contact with the bears (due to safety reasons) but you can certainly expect to carry out some unique tasks – design their next bear house in Cambodia; design, build and plant garden areas surrounding the bear enclosures; design and paint viewing areas; design promotional materials, etc.

Click here to find out more.


WFFT Wildlife Rescue Centre in Thailand

Here at WFFT (Wildlife Friends Foundation of Thailand), you’ll find a variety of wildlife species – from gibbons and macaques to bears and exotic birds. Committed to providing its rescue animals a living condition that is as close to nature as possible, WFFT’s main objective is to rehabilitate the animals back into the wild. It’s not an easy task, resulting in a large number of the animals remaining in the shelter for the rest of their lives. The minimum commitment for volunteers is a week.

Click here for more information.


Bali Sea Turtle Rescue in Bali, Indonesia

Nearly all species of sea turtles are endangered, so it’s all the more crucial that we do what we can to ensure the survival of these beautiful, majestic creatures. Located on Nusa Penida, an island southeast of Bali, this rehab centre takes care of injured turtles (received from local fishermen), nurses them back to health, then releases them into the sea. The team also looks after new hatchlings and cares for them until they are mature enough to be released into the sea. As volunteers, your duties will include caring for injured turtles, maintenance, construction work, collection of data, etc.

Click here for more information.


Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai

Fellow Go Away editor Denise spent a day at this elephant rescue and rehab centre whilst on her honeymoon, and she says it was one of the best days of her life. Elephant Nature Park offers a few volunteer programs, most of which would involve some form of interaction between you and the gentle giants. Denise and her husband got to walk alongside three elephants, feed them, and even join them in their mud baths! [Read Denise’s adventures, here.]

Click here for more information.

A photo posted by Denise Li (@smackeral83) on

With wanderlust flowing in her veins, Lili has always had grand dreams of travelling the world, escaping to exotic locales and experiencing different cultures. Whenever Life gets too much for her, she reaches straight for her earphones to tune out the world. More than just a temporary distraction, music has a profound way of taking her to places that stir the soul.

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