OFI Borneo Conservation Field Construction Program
Orangutan Foundation International currently has volunteer opportunities available for active individuals who are willing to get their hands dirty and help save one of earth’s most bio-diverse areas. Journey to Borneo, the world’s oldest rainforest, and help build a much needed structure!
You may assist in building a bridge, an animal enclosure, an infant orangutan jungle gym, or another type of structure to help OFI continue our important work of saving orangutans and their rainforest habitat.
Program team members will complete projects that directly aid critically important aspects of our on-the-ground programs. The Field Construction Program was developed because concerned individuals asked to participate directly in the work. We believe that together we can ensure that wild orangutans do not become extinct in our lifetimes.
For more information, you can read the FAQs here.
Here is a Thank You video for one of our 2019 Construction Teams that may give you a good idea of the types of work that teams participate in.
Dates for 2020
Dates for 2020: Each team runs for a set period of approximately 2 weeks.
This fee is to be paid upon acceptance of your application at a link listed below. This payment is non-refundable and is meant to hold your spot on the team.
The program payment includes
All accommodations, food (breakfast, lunch and dinner), materials for the completion of the project, local assistance, as well as travel to and from the program site from the town airport.
The program payment DOES NOT include
International and internal travel to the local field site airport. This program payment also does not include snacks, postage, laundry, or activities outside the team experience. You must purchase your flight tickets to and from the closest airport which is located near the town of Pangkalan Bun, Kalimantan Tengah [Central Borneo, Indonesia]. This payment also does not include the cost of entry into the national park during the trip to Camp Leakey at the end of the project (if the Project does not take place at Camp Leakey or in the National Park).
Program members are responsible for their own vaccinations and should bring anti-malarial prophylactics and medications as well as medicines for common conditions such as diarrhea. OFI will NOT accept applicants who do not show proof of valid vaccinations against the following diseases: tetanus, hepatitis A and B, typhoid, and potentially others, depending on alert levels at the time. We also require negative tuberculosis test results for orangutan health and safety reasons. Applicants will be required to fill out a medical form and have it signed by a doctor.
Be ready for:
Hands-on manual work in a hot, humid, equatorial environment
An amazing opportunity to see OFI operations from the ground
Buzzing, biting insects and the rare venomous snake
Basic, remote, isolated living conditions: no running hot water, rudimentary toilet and shower facilities
Possibly sleeping in the middle of the forest in temporary shelters or out under the stars
3 meals per day (white rice and vegetables, possibly supplemented by eggs, chicken, tofu or fish)
Construction work: building, carrying, sawing, cutting, etc – heavy lifting required!
The opportunity to forge strong relationships with like minded individuals
The opportunity for rare wildlife and ecological sightings
Team projects will take place at one of the following sites*:
The Orangutan Care Center and Quarantine (OCCQ)
In the Dayak village of Pasir Panjang
Guard Posts within protected forests
Remote release sites
And other sites to be determined
*The projects will not be confirmed until later in the year and will be specific to the needs at that time.
A Typical Day:
7:00am – 8:00am – Breakfast
8:00am – Work Begins
12:00pm – Lunch break
1:00pm – Work
5:00pm – Work ends, time to bathe
7:00pm – Dinner
7:30pm – Discussion of day’s events and discussion of next day’s work
9:00pm – Bed (at your discretion)
The Basics: In order to participate in our Program:
You do not need experience in the field, just a willingness to help, a sincere interest in forest conservation and orangutan survival, and a passion for the work OFI does.
Program members should expect to be active approximately 7 hours per day with one day of rest on Sunday. This experience should not be viewed as a “holiday.” However we will do our best to ensure you see the local area and get some authentic cultural experiences.
You must be 18 years of age or above.
You must be in good physical condition and be prepared for hands-on manual work in a hot, steamy, equatorial environment that may occasionally have buzzing and biting insects and other inconveniences as well as the occasional danger.
Program members should also be cognizant that Borneo’s endemic diseases consist of tropical diseases such as malaria, dengue, typhus, hepatitis, etc. (however infection from these is rare if vaccines and precautions are taken)
If your written application is successful, you will be interviewed by phone or Skype.
All applications will be acknowledged. Once applications, cover letters, and resumes are received, phone or Skype interviews will be conducted with chosen applicants. You will be contacted by one of our volunteer coordinators to set up this interview usually within a few weeks of application. Note that all of our coordinators are themselves volunteers, so please be patient if there is an occasional communications delay.
After the interview, if accepted, you will receive a letter of acceptance and you will need to pay the program fee to reserve your spot on your chosen team.
A refundable down payment of $275 (USD) is due upon acceptance to the team. This fee will secure your spot on the team.
The final balance is due for each team at the latest by:
Team 1: June 1st
Team 2: July 1st
After these dates all payments are non-refundable, except in extenuating circumstances please contact OFI LA office
The Field Construction Program will take place at sites in Kalimantan Tengah (Central Indonesian Borneo) in the general vicinity of Pangkalan Bun but exact locations will not be confirmed until later in the year and will be specific to the needs at that time.
Will I get to interact with the orangutans?
You will definitely see orangutans. Whether you get to interact with them depends more on the orangutans as they are free to come and go and interact with people as they please.
What are the living conditions like?
Living conditions are very basic, remote, and isolated. There is no running hot water. Toilet and shower facilities will be very rudimentary.
You may be sleeping in the middle of the forest in temporary shelters. You may also be sleeping in an OFI facility. There will be three hot meals per day cooked by a local staff member. Meals will consist of rice and vegetables, possibly supplemented by eggs, chicken, or fish. There will be no red meat in keeping with local practice.
How hard will the work be and what kind of work is typically done?
The work is general physical in nature but not too hard for someone who is in moderately good shape. However, due to the remoteness of the location, a lot of modern conveniences are not available.
Will there be an opportunities to visit Camp Leakey or the Orangutan Care Center and Quarantine?
There will be an organized visit to Camp Leakey at the end of each program if the project does not take place there. Visits to other OFI facilities depend on where projects take place and the time available.