Written by: Jaii Fredregill
Destination: Sarawak, Malaysia
Visited: October 2018
Located in the Malaysian Borneo state of Sarawak, Orangutan Project has recently introduced some fun new ways for travelers and pub patrons to donate to their very worthy organization through fundraising businesses. You can now give your support by simply raising a glass, ordering a meal or taking a beachfront getaway to beautiful Borneo.
Male orangutans are easily discernible by their large size and distinct facial features.
By partnering in three local businesses, Monkee Bar, Bear Garden, and Basaga Holiday Resort Lundu, Orangutan Project is able to donate 50% of the profits from each business to their conservation and animal welfare work. Staffed with volunteers and local employees, the businesses have been well-received not just for their charitable efforts but for the quality of goods and services they provide.
Mother and child
The majority of profits go to Matang Wildlife Centre, which the Orangutan Project operates and funds for the Sarawak Forestry Corporation. Intended as an animal sanctuary, the center accepts all wildlife in need of rescue, in particular, the orangutan and sun bear who are native to this region and in threat of extinction. Government funding is not available for such projects, making the Orangutan Project's proceeds absolutely critical.
Established in 2006, Matang Wildlife Centre serves as a haven for endangered wildlife rescued from what are often terribly dire circumstances. Animals that can safely return to the wild are released, but many arrive in poor health or have never lived outside of captivity. For these animals, a return to the wild could be a death sentence. There is no blanket solution, each must be handled case-by-case based on what is best for the animal and their individual circumstances.
Monkee Bar Bistro, 93100 Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia, offers some of the most affordable prices inside Kuching's city center, making it a favorite neighborhood bar among local city dwellers. Volunteer bartender Khaz is pictured above.
Some have been abandoned by private owners who foolishly thought a wild animal would make a good pet. Others have lost their natural habitat to palm oil production or were captured and forced to work in the tourist industry. Which, especially in the case of orangutans, means murdering the animal's mother so their adorable babies can be used to attract tourist dollars.
Matang Wildlife Centre is a sanctuary and rehabilitation center. Animals that can safely return to the wild are released, but many arrive in poor health or have never lived outside of captivity. In these instances, the animals will remain at Matang until their health is stable and a safe transition to their natural habitat is possible.
Grab a seat in Bear Garden's charming courtyard and enjoy a glass of wine or cocktail with some of the best vegan bar fare available. Volunteer bartender Noelle Tankard and Matang Wildlife Centre volunteer David Phillips are pictured above. Bear Garden is located at 66, Wayang St, 93100 Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia
If you are a casual tourist, not interested in trekking in the jungle, you will only ethically see orangutans and sun bears at known sanctuaries. Anyone telling you otherwise has most certainly done harm to the animals you encounter. It is good practice to always look for the mother when you encounter a baby animal. Despite what you may be told, it is very unlikely that you are interacting with a motherless baby animal unless it was purposely orphaned when it's mother confronted poachers, which a sanctuary will tell you. If you would like to help stop these horrific crimes towards wildlife, keep your money in your pocket if you are unsure.
Basaga Holiday Resort Lundu is a seaside resort that is a 2-hour drive from Kuching International Airport located near the Gunung Gading National Park. The sparsely populated beach and easily accessible nature surrounding it make it an ideal destination for nature lovers and anyone looking to get away from it all to dig their toes in the sand.
The Orangutan Project, in conjunction with the Sarawak Forestry, Corp., run an Adopt An Orangutan Program for visitors and supporters who would like to donate to the care of these animals. The adoption program is popular among visitors to Matang Wildlife Centre and volunteers looking to stay in touch and offer their continued support.
Other Successful Fundraising Programs
The Orangutan, Rainforests and Tribes Tour and the Matang Wildlife Centre Volunteer Project. The 2-week Orangutan, Rainforests and Tribes Tour includes everything but airfare and allows ecotourist the opportunity to visit national parks and orangutan reserves located in Sarawak.
The Matang Wildlife Centre Volunteer Project is a 2-4 week opportunity for those looking to visit and work at the center. Like the tour, volunteering is inclusive of meals, lodging, and transportation.
For more information please visit the Project Orangutan website.