Also known as "see orangutangy things", but I've actually done a lot more than just looking. I went to see a lot of the orangutan's habitat when I took part in the Orangutan Health Project conservation trip in Sumatra, and got to see orangutans too, but that was not the main part. My volunteer friends and I took part in activities such as:
- Keeping the Orangutan Health Project Base up and running
- Checking past collected data for any mistakes so that data is as accurate as possible
- Collecting data "in the field" to aid with a long-term conservation plan
- Keeping collected orangutan food samples and plant samples damp-free
- Personally writing accounts of what happened during the trip, so you can see exactly what's been going on to help the orangutans
Frontier, the agency that introduced me to the trip, said that I'd be doing activities like:
- Donning a pair of gardening gloves to help with reforestation
- Preparing food for the orangutans and monitoring them while they come for their snacks
- Collecting data to aid with a long-term conservation plan
- Patrolling the area for threats to the orangutans
You can see that some of that was wrong, although the trip provided a valuable conservation experience nevertheless and was well worth going on. If you are interested in volunteering, I'd recommend contacting OHP directly rather than going through Frontier.
I wanted to go and do some hands on work because I want to do more than just throw money at the situation or tell people about it - It is important to me that I help save the orangutans and their habitat with my own hands and see that I am making a difference; the orangutans need a lot of help, all the help they can get in fact.
If you do go on the trip, don't expect it to be easy; I braved hot, humid temperatures, blood-sucking leeches, nasty mosquitoes and all sorts of other rainforest challenges to help these loveable apes. I lugged around my rainforest backpack, whilst living in a sleeping bag in a hut, or underneath the stars during the dark nights. My fitness levels have changed, and I've actually had to find ways to raise the money for the trip, which brings me onto my next action...