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Early March, the BOS Foundation was once again visited by a group of nine volunteers from several countries: UK, Canada and Australia. These volunteers applied to help the BOS Foundation through The Great Projects, an organisation that has supported the BOS Foundation run its volunteer program by coordinating volunteers’ selection, travel requirements and activities during their stay in Samboja Lestari. Some volunteers stayed for a week, whilst others helped us for a month.

Everyday, their activities started at 9 AM. They walked down the track from Samboja Lodge to Island 6, where they were divided into 2 groups. One group was responsible to clean up the enclosures, while the second helped the technicians prepare fruits for orangutans.

These morning activities usually finished at around 10 AM, after which it was time to prepare enrichment materials. One of the preparation activities was finding and harvesting bamboo around Samboja area. After lunch, the volunteers helped our technicians produce the physical enrichment tools. In this case the bamboo were cut into short even pieces, filled with food such as oatmeal, dried fruits, or peanuts , and then wrapped and frozen.

In addition to keeping the orangutans stimulated in their enclosures, these enrichment tools are also intended to teach the orangutans that food in the forest does not always come easily. Extra efforts and persistence are often needed to find and then gain access to them, especially during non-fruiting seasons.

In the afternoon, the volunteers would harvest leaves and branches for the orangutans in order to encorage them to make nests in their enclosures.

They also cleaned the islands. “Cleaning the islands” is our term for cleaning the waterways around the islands. The man-made islands in Samboja Lestari are separated by canals to avoid orangutans from moving between these islands.

Great Contribution by the Volunteers (Photo credit: Wiwik Astutik)

Great Contribution by the Volunteers (Photo credit: Wiwik Astutik)

Great Contribution by the Volunteers (Photo credit: Wiwik Astutik)

Great Contribution by the Volunteers (Photo credit: Wiwik Astutik)

Initially, the volunteers hesitated to jump in the canals to clean the wild grasses by the canal banks. They probably feared encountering snakes or other surprising wildlife. But once they took the plunge and realized that the area was perfectly safe, they came to really enjoy this particular activity, so much so that some of them repeatedly asked when the next schedule was set to clean the islands.

Another favorite activity, especially at night, was to go to the night market to eat satay and other local treats. On the weekends, they went shopping at Pasar Tradisional Kebun Sayur, a place to buy all kinds of traditional handicrafts and souvenirs for their families and friends back home.

We were really glad to see them enjoy their visit to Samboja Lestari and we hope more volunteers will join The Great Project to provide a valuable contribution to orangutan conservation in the future.

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