Indonesia Wildlife Sanctuary Volunteer Stories

Here are a sample of experiences from previous volunteers at the Indonesia Wildlife Rescue project.
“A truly remarkable and unforgettable adventure”
Ann is a retired teacher from the UK who volunteered at Globalteer’s Indonesia Wildlife Sanctuary Project in July and August 2015.

Here, she talks about her experience assisting with the project’s animal conservation and rehabilitation programme and explaining why volunteering was a special experience where she learnt a lot about some of the most endangered animals in Asia.

Choosing Globalteer

After 30 years of teaching I decided I needed a big adventure to celebrate my retirement. I booked through Globalteer to work in a wildlife rescue centre in Sulawesi Indonesia. It turned out to be so much more than I imagined, with more blood, sweat, tears, laughter and hope for the future of our planet than I could ever have thought possible.

Working with wildlife, I had hoped to be part of their release to their natural habitat. Sustainable safe habitats are now so difficult to identify that the release of primates who have been stolen from their parents back to the wild is rare.

Working with endangered animals

I worked with sun bears, orangutans and exotic birds. The sun bears captured my heart, and the orangutans amazed me with their problem solving skills.

Carrying fruit and water in 90% humidity was physically challenging, but I am now fitter and more patient with my grandchildren when they, just like the sun bears, decide they are going to stay in the bath for half an hour longer despite your efforts to change the water.

A life changing experience

I donated more than a little blood to the mosquito population, and shared laughter and tears with volunteers that will remain in my memories as bright candles in the darkness of one possible future of our planet. A truly remarkable and unforgettable adventure!

You too can have an unique experience like Ann by volunteering at the Indonesia Wildlife Sanctuary today!
"It's hot, sweaty work...but seeing the animals each day makes it worth it"
Fiona Procter is a very special Globalteer volunteer. During a break from her IT career, the 46 year-old Australian volunteered at no less than three of Globalteer’s projects – Thailand Animal Rescue, Cambodia Bear Sanctuary (where she also helped us to make our Cambodia Bear Rescue video), and Indonesia Wildlife Rescue on the island of Sulawesi.

Almost a false start

Things didn’t exactly get off to a flying start though and at one point it looked like Fiona might not actually make it to Manado, the nearest airport to the Indonesian project, first of her three volunteer placements. Thanks to her flight from Jakarta not appearing on the departures board, and the airport announcements only being made in the Behasa Indonesia language, Fiona was almost left stranded! It was only her keen sense of hearing that saved the day when she overheard someone saying the magic word “Manado” and consequently managed to find her way to the gate just in time for her flight’s departure.

After that near-miss things went mostly smoothly, although she did leave Indonesia with a few interesting anecdotes, but nothing so scary that it would put her off doing it all over again. Here is an account of Fiona’s Indonesia Wildlife Rescue volunteering experience:

“Animals are the one thing that make me smile instantly, and I was in need of a few smiles. I had done a two week volunteering placement in Ecuador once before, and was looking to volunteer with orangutans in Borneo. But that wasn’t available so I looked around to see what else there was... I typed 'animals volunteer Asia' into Google and Globalteer was one of the links that came up.

"I like Globalteer’s openness about where the money goes - my previous experience had left me with a bad taste – and I chose Indonesia as geographically it fit in well with my plans. From reading the daily duties it seemed similar to what I had done before so I thought it was a good choice to start with".

Getting stuck in at the project

“Working with bears for the first time was great... I fell in love with them... One of the most rewarding tasks at the project was making and handing out the daily “enrichments”. There were times when you could tell the animals loved receiving these things. I honestly thought the 40+ macaques would have just chucked the flower posies I made for them to one side... But every one of them picked it up with excitement.
“What did I like best about our volunteer accommodation? The food ... Mmmmmm. Joking aside, for me, sharing accommodation with a lot of under 22s was a bit challenging, but they were actually all really good. I did go off and find my own personal space for a fair amount of the down time but in general the 'kids' were a lot of fun to be around. ... I had my birthday when I was there and all the other volunteers made it one of the best birthdays I've ever had ... They sang 'Happy Birthday' in 6 languages and gave me a cake. I made some lovely new friends on the project”

In praise of the project staff

“The volunteer coordinators put a lot of effort in to make sure everything goes well. They were happy to evict the baby tarantula I discovered in the girls’ bathroom for example…During my stay there were two episodes of escaping orang-utans, but this just gave us a welcome break as we were confined to the volunteer house until they were recaptured!

"I was a little sad when it came to leaving, and I’d definitely do this kind of volunteering again, but this was the first of 3 Globalteer projects I had planned so it felt ok to move onto the next one. If I had to sum up my experience in one sentence I’d say it's hot, sweaty work, and it’s hard at times, but seeing the animals each day makes it worth it.”
I have enjoyed every minute of my time here...
I could not have enjoyed my stay here more. I have come to love many of the animals and care deeply about their well-being, along with spending many an enjoyable evening with the other volunteers and, of course, Simon. Among the highlights of my time spent with the animals, those that stand out include releasing the bears into their new-look enclosure, orangutan escapes, moving the siamang to a better home and watching the baby monkey in the release group be dragged off to safety by his over-protective mother. I have enjoyed every minute of my time here; from being covered in bear poo to hanging out on the beach, and hope all the other volunteers love the centre as much as I have.

Jenni, Scotland
They are spectacular creatures and I am really going to miss them...
I think my time here at the center has helped me overcome my phobia of birds, but we will see.

I have loved my time here and grown to love some of these animals more than I can say - especially Bimbin and Bonbon (the two cutest sun bears I have ever seen) and the macaques Hanoman, Demi, Vinnie (although he really seemed to dislike me) and Pagi the moluccan cockatoo and Jeruk the orange crested cockatoo and oh my god I forgot Bento and Is the orangutans.

They are spectacular creatures and I am really going to miss them. To future volunteers: I hope you work hard and have fun, and don't scratch those bug bites!

Grace, USA
At this place, I felt really useful...
This time at the centre has been of very beneficial for me:
knowledge on new species, pleasure of manufacturing things with little means, contact with volunteers and staff from other countries and cultures, and, above all, pleasure of seeing the animals happier thanks to our work. It is a huge satisfaction. I think I have improved a little bit the conditions of the lives of the birds by adding new water bowls in their cages to drink and have a bath, and by doing many enrichments. As far as I am concerned, all the aspects of my stay have been positive. The biggest challenge is certainly to manage to build things with so few resources.

From the beginning, I decided to volunteer in a maximum of countries so as to understand better the problems of the animals all around the world. But, among all the centres I have been to, this is the one I would most appreciate to return to.

As soon as I came back to France, I contacted all the volunteers I know to try to convince them to go to the centre. At this place, I felt really useful. I think that this place is really valuable for any person who sincerely wants to act for the animals, side by side with a manager, Simon, totally involved and dedicated to the animal protection. In this centre, you will go to bed every evening with a feeling of a well-done work, and of having brought your own little stone to this never-ending building.

Patricia, France
Thank you very much and carry on the good work...
Thanks for this month, it was a great experience for me. I hope everything will continue to improve for the centre and the animals. I realise that one month is not enough to really know the place, the project and to know what to do to be truly constructive, but in any case I really enjoyed it here - it was great! Thank you very much and carry on the good work :)
Richard, Belgium
You become attached without even meaning to...
I was offered to spend three weeks at the centre, I thought yes! There my work would be vital and make a difference. It would be hard, but that made it more attractive as a prospect. Personally, I benefited from the experience by the fact that before my knowledge of animal cruelty was non-existent. So I found the volume of knowledge to take in intimidating, but you do! Trivia that makes you a vital member of any quiz team.

Seriously though, if you, like myself, are looking for something to do to fill up time, or learn or grow or something meaningful or even a productive holiday, there are so many ways that an experience like this can be valued. I also met some memorable characters: some mammals, some reptiles.

Enriching the animals at the centre is very important. Put yourself in their position: you are not where you should be, you are not able to socialise or behave naturally, and you rely on others. As a volunteer it is your duty to give the animals something to do. On a memorable occasion, myself and another volunteer gave a macaque a whole coconut; euphoric glee was what we witnessed.

In the end it becomes a game, thinking up new things for them to do, taking into account the time it may take them to become bored of it or finish it, whether it will encourage natural behaviour, etc. That is a main reason I was looking forward to going to the centre; the stimulating challenge of working with your surroundings for theirs. You make enrichments out of coconuts, bamboo, twigs, banana leaves, flowers, fruit anything you can lay your hands on, the emphasis is to be resourceful.

I would go back to the centre, no hesitation in saying that. Why? Why not? You become attached without even meaning to. The place has a palpable aura. It could be argued that there are drawbacks: one week shopping trips, kamikaze mosquitoes, and early mornings.

But, when you are working with exotic animals, on an island in Indonesia, where the sand is black because of the volcanoes, the sea is warm because of the gorgeous sun and the food is amazing (half of my time is spent trying to recreate those dishes); any minor discomforts fade (eventually) to insignificance. I do not want to think of it as a once in a life time experience, because I would like to do it twice maybe even three times.

Harriet, Scotland

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