Orang Utans make their own medicine. Discover how via Volunteer Work!

By Dian Hasan | October 12, 2009

Orang Utan-Bukit Lawang Rehab Ctr-Gunung Leuser National Park-North SumatraThe animal world never ceases to captivate us. With the explosion of media, especially TV programs dedicated to animals and wildlife, and with a big help from the internet, information about animals have become readily available like never before. The most intelligent of animals, apes, are of particularly interest, as they… well, remind us so much about ourselves.

With continued research we are learning about just how intelligent they are. Recent research indicate that Orang Utans have the ability to heal themselves with self-made medication when they are sick, making concoctions of herbs and leaves they find in the forest. An interesting find indeed, as research has demonstrated that Orang Utans in the wild are healthier than those in captivity, that are more prone to ailments. Germs passed from humans are one reason to blame. The fact that Orang Utans recognize which plants to use for medication is fascinating. You can get involved by becoming a volunteer to work with these fuzzy, cuddly & friendly Man of the Forest (Malay translation of Orang Utan)!

Orang Utans by riverside in Bukit Lawang

Orang Utans by riverside in Bukit Lawang. Notice how they use their hands to drink.

Orang Utan Volunteer-Mother and baby in the jungle (Photo Chris Bannister)

Mother and baby in the jungle. Photo: Chris Bannister

Orang Utans are amongst the most endangered species in the world. Their habitats can only be found in the rainforest of Indonesia’s Sumatra and Kalimantan (Borneo, the part Indonesia shares with Malaysian). If you’ve always been intrigued to get close and personal with the Orang Utan, you could choose to volunteer at an Orang Utan Rescue center in Indonesia. Organized through Eco Volunteer, that works with the Bukit Lawang Orang Utan Rehabilitation Center in North Sumatra. The project is located near Gunung Leuser National Park, the orang utans natural habitat.

Orang Utan-Bukit Lawang Rehab Ctr-Orang Utan in the wild

Orang utan in the wild. Photo: Bukit Lawang Orang Utan Rehabilitation Center

Orang Utan-Bukit Lawang Rehab Ctr-Orang Utan w Baby

Orang Utan with baby at Bukit Lawang Orang Utan Rehabilitation center

Bukit Lawang ranks as the best place to see these unique primates, with one of the largest strongholds of orang utan communities. Bukit Lawang situated at the eastern side of Gunung Leuser National Park, by the Bohorok river. It is estimated that there re over 5,000 orang utans in the jungles of this national park.

Orang Utan Volunteer-River crossing (Photo Ivona Foitova)

River crossing during jungle hike. Photo: Ivona Foitova

Orang Utan-Bukit Lawang Rehab Ctr-One of orangutans is being taken care at Bukit Lawang

Mother orang utan and her baby at the Bukit Lawang Orang Utan Rehabilitation Center, North Sumatra

Although Eco Volunteer works with a different Orang Utan rehab center, it’s interesting to mention the Bohorok Orang Utan Centre at Bukit Lawang, as the pioneer center for Orang Utans. Established in 1973 by two Swiss Zoologists with funding from Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The centre’s mission is to safeguard the decreasing number of orang utans from hunting, orang utan trading, habitat destruction due to forest fires and deforestation caused by palm oil plantations and illegal logging. The rehabilitation center helps orang utans re-gain their natural habits through training and rehabilitation before being released to the wild. Once orang utans are back in the wild, the center monitors their whereabout, providing them with regular medical check-ups.

Orang Utan Volunteer-Rice field, view from the volunteer accommodation (Photo Ivona Foitova)

Rice field, view from the volunteer accommodation. Photo: Ivona Foitova

Orang Utan Volunteer-Volunteer accommodation (Photo Ivona Foitova)

Volunteer accommodation. Photo: Ivona Foitova

Project accommodation is in the rice fields in the Timbang Lawan village, in a tranquil setting that sees volunteers from around the world. The center works closely with the community of this village. And in the nearby Bohorok river is Gunung Leuser National Park, one of the richest expanses of protected tropical rainforest ecosystems in Southeast Asia and where the center’s research is focused.

Orang Utan Volunteer-The river crossing at the entrance to the National Park, to be crossed in the boat pictured (Photo Chris Bannister)

Boat river crossing in boat to Gunung Leuser National Park. Photo: Chris Bannister

Orang Utan Volunteer-Mother and baby in the jungle (Photo Chris Bannister) 2

Mother and baby in the jungle. Photo: Chris Bannister

While working with orang utans, volunteers can also help fellow-humans, through the Bukit Lawang Community Charitable Trust to help support the local Bukit Lawang community that was hit by disastrous floods in 2003, wiping out the whole of the village and killing 300 people. The Trust provides immediate aid, and set up a health clinic in the village. The Trust now helps other villages like Bukit Lawang throughout Indonesia that have been affected by natural disaster such as the tsunami and earthquakes by helping the communities to rehabilitate through water, health and education projects. 100% of funds raised go directly to projects.

Orang Utan Volunteer-Conducting reserach work in the office (Photo Ivona Foitova)

Conducting reserach work in the office. Photo: Ivona Foitova

Orang Utan Volunteer-Another Mother and baby photo in the rainforest. (Photo Chris Bannister)

Another Mother and baby photo in the rainforest. Photo: Chris Bannister

Orang Utan Volunteer-Ivona at work in the jungle (Photo Chris Bannister)

Conducting research work on jungle floor. Photo: Chris Bannister

Orang Utan Volunteer-Ivona at work in the jungle (Photo Chris Bannister) 2

Trekking through the thick rainforest jungle. Photo: Chris Bannister

Source: Unique Travel Destinations

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