Committed, enthusiastic, slightly nutty (it helps!) and hard working - our volunteers. Another year's volunteer programme has ended and again it has proved to be invaluable to our field operations. The programme has been running successfully for seven years. Each year, between April and November, we have up to four teams coming out to work with us in the field. Volunteers pay £600 for six weeks which covers all their living expenses but also importantly pays for all the construction and material used during the programme. All of the money received from the volunteer programme stays in the field.
For the past few years, the main target area of the programme has been the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve. Projects have included the construction of guard posts, building release sites for ex-captive orangutans, marking out boundaries and assisting with reforestation programmes. In 2008 we hope to build two new orangutan sites in Lamandau in order to relieve pressure at the OCCQ. All of the teams in 2008 will be concentrating on constructing one of the release sites and we hope to raise funds for the construction of the other site.
Vicky Dauncey, the volunteer co-ordinator for this year has sent us a taster of what the last two teams got up to....
Map - to help to get your bearings!
Team 3 - Our focus on this team was to construct a guard post in Sungai Mangkung, Lamandau. We experienced a lot of rain!!
By the second week there was no dry land except the pondok and the building site but the upside to this meant it was cooler in the day and so it made the physical work less demanding. Morale stayed high during our work in Lamandau despite the flooding (in the last few days the water entered the pondok!).
Volunteers and Orangutan Foundation staff at Sungai Mangkung, Lamandau
Eventually we were forced to leave without finishing the post. This meant that we had a few days, on the beach, at Tanjung Keluang, planting saplings and cleaning the area of rubbish. This was funded by the Forestry Department and we worked with two forestry department staff whilst we were there. Living (sleeping in hammocks) and working at Tanjung Keluang was an incredible experience and one I hope the volunteers will not forget.
Team 4 - The first week was spent in Sungai Buluh Kecil, TPNP. Re-planting an area destroyed by fire. First we had to check an area that had been previously planted and replace dead saplings. This was particularly physically tough as the terrain is swamp. After six days the volunteers were exhausted and, although proud of their work, they were happy to leave!
Sungai Buluh Kecil, TPNP
Two rest days were spent in PKB and during this time we visited the OCCQ. The OCCQ really brings home the importance of building the guard posts and release camps in Lamandau and really helps to motivate the volunteers.
After the rest we went to Lamandau to finish the guard post at Sungai Mangkung, that was started by team 3. In comparison to the first week this seemed like light work and it helped that we were working in a beautiful location and that the water had receded!
Pak Sariamat, Pak Matjuri, Ibu Opit are long standing staff members and highly valued on the volunteer programme. Thank you for your continued hard work.
If the Volunteer Programme interests you please visit the Orangutan Foundation website www.orangutan.org.uk