Charity: Orangutan Project

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 ORANGUTAN PROJECT?

A voluntary organisation, has been working with one of these communities for the past 9 years bringing in ecotourist/volunteers for community based work and  jungle trek’s.

Intrested in sustainable conservation practices in ecotourism, the focus has been to engage tourist and practitioners alike on the importance of understanding  cultural sensitivities towards native hunting rights, in the light of modern tourism business practices. Where ‘cost effective’ tour prices have been and are still contributing to hunting during tours, most of the time, unbeknownst to the tourist.

Alvin Danker, who I believe to be the best, most knowledgable, passionate and “awake” guide in Borneo has partnered with the project; built a new volunteer house to maintain the flow of volunteers working side by side with the people of Jingin Longhouse and hence enhance their will  to resist the overtures of the logger’s agents and political middlemen, trying every trick in the book to persuade the chief and his villagers to accept the logging and the even more destructive oil palm plantation. So far their answer has been a shaky ‘no’.

Obviously the economic benefits of ecotourism has, so far, outweighed the empty promises of the logging middlemen. The community still remembers the promises made to convince them to make way for the Batang Ai dam.

Taken directly from the Orangutan Project website.

Overview:

Orangutan Project Sdn Bhd is a conservation company offering alternative solutions and sustainable funding opportunities for the endangered wildlife on Borneo. We also specialise in ethical volunteering and tourism experiences working with the magnificent orangutan and other protected species such as the clouded leopard, binturong, sun bear and false gharial, among others.

Tourism and volunteering in developing countries with endangered wildlife is littered with ethical problems and exploitative practices, though is attracting participants that are seeking a meaningful experience where they are able to help animals. We have chosen to focus on developing tourism and volunteering projects as one of our facets, not only for the significant revenue we can generate for conservation but also to create a standard of ethical tourism that we hope to see become the norm across the tourism market.

What they do:

‘Volunteering’ is perhaps a misleading name for the opportunity we offer to work with us at these rescue and rehabilitation centres. It is more than working for free – volunteers pay to join us on our projects, and through this fee are actually funding a huge amount of materials, staff and works undertaken on the ground. Simply expecting to work voluntarily is not always useful. To make sure volunteers are actually employed effectively while on site, a team of English-speaking facilitators is essential, as well as all the equipment that the person will need while working (paint, brushes, shovels, wheelbarrows, work gloves, saws etc). Expecting the centres to provide all of this actually places a burden upon them and prevents them continuing their daily work. A successful, meaningful volunteer program takes a lot of hard work to manage, and rehabilitation centres are expensive to run. It is therefore the only logical model that a volunteer should make a significant financial contribution as well.

There has been a disregard of what is best for the orangutan and an emphasis on pleasing the tourist. It has been assumed that tourist satisfaction at orangutan rehabilitation centres is dependent on a close encounter with these apes, but we believe this is not so. In taking the time to explain the detrimental impact this type of tourism can have on great ape health and behaviour, we have found our tourists to be more respectful of the animals, more interested in some of the issues surrounding problematic tourism practices and more likely to avoid exploitative tourism opportunities with animals in the future.

Orangutan Project is passionate about providing truly responsible volunteering and tourism opportunities. We believe that people that search for these kinds of holidays really want to help the cause, and given the chance they can become valuable ambassadors for wildlife, both abroad and at home. One of the rewarding aspects of our job is continually meeting people who care about animals, want to do something to help, and often go out of their way to help the cause. Our projects have thrived because of the people who have decided that working hard in the jungle is a great way to spend their holiday – we think it is important to give these people the chance to truly help the cause, both through their financial contribution and their work while they are with us on site.

Though a lot of our efforts are focused on the centres we are based in, we also keep ‘the bigger picture’ in mind. Being a conservation company is no easy task, and conservation of endangered wildlife certainly won’t be achieved by only helping the rehabilitation centres themselves. With money raised through our volunteering projects, tourism initiatives, business investments, education products and speaking tours, we are also able to fund wider work throughout Borneo, either undertaken ourselves or by trusted NGO and charity partners.

Read more at http://projectorangutan.com/

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