Volunteer in Indonesia with Rescued Wildlife in North Sulawesi

Volunteers are needed to join a Wildlife Rescue Centre in the northern part of the Island Sulawesi in Indonesia. The project includes tasks such as feeding the animals, provide browsing from various vegetation to the animals, and making enrichment for the animals to be stimulated, and finding methods to address concerns about the captive wildlife’s welfare.

You can join for 2 weeks up to 12 weeks and we have places available all year round.

Individuals, groups and students all welcome.

Costs for accommodation in a shared volunteer house, food, materials & training start from £900.

Sun bear in enclosure at Rescue CentreVolunteers working on crocodile release siteLeopard at Rescue CentreBaby MacaqueBusy Volunteers at the Rescue CentreSun bear sleeping in enclosureBento the OrangutanEco lodgeCockatooMarina of ManadoNew forest enclosure for macaque monkeysPalm cockatooSunrise from lodgeVicky the Javan Langur

About the Project

Bento the OrangutanThe Wildlife Rescue Centre is located in the Northern part of the island Sulawesi in Indonesia. This particular location is a hotspot for the smuggling of wildlife out of Indonesia onto the global market via the Philippines. Animals from all over the vast Indonesian archipelago have suffered this trade route. The Rescue Centre helps the authorities tackle this crime and take care of the wildlife confiscated from this trade.

Volunteering at the Wildlife Rescue Centre thus involves work with various wild animals from the region. Tasks can include feeding the animals and providing browse from various vegetation to the animals. In the wild, animals constantly interact with plants for nourishment and entertainment. Volunteers simulate this experience by providing browse to the captive wildlife twice a day. You could also be making enrichment for the animals to stimulate and find methods to address potential concerns about the captive wildlife’s behaviour, and their physical and psychological welfare. It is also an important part of the daily activities for volunteers to observe the animals, and pay attention to any potential abnormal behaviour.

Volunteers at work Volunteers will work 5½ days a week, having one personal day off and one communal afternoon off a week. The communal day off is typically for organising excursions to some of the many places of cultural and natural interest in the area. The working day usually starts very early at 6am and ends around 4pm, and after that your time is your own. During this time, you will have both a long breakfast and lunch break.

Safety on the Project

Please be aware that this project includes working with wild animals, and thus adherence to the Safe Distance Policy is crucial. The Safe Distance policy is simply about always keeping a safe distance of two arms lengths from the wildlife. Failure to adhere to this could result in being dismissed from the project.

Wildlife does not naturally seek human interaction, and because our organisation partner operates according to the five freedoms of animal welfare, they do not unnecessarily handle wildlife. They want to give them the possibility to express their natural behaviour, and only clinic staff or keepers will be able get close in exceptional cases. Also, viruses and bacteria can be transmitted to humans through bite wounds and scratches, or through contact with faeces, saliva and urine. For that reason, volunteers cannot touch, pet or hand feed any of the animals at the centre.

Dates & Costs

You can join the Wildlife Rescue Volunteer Programme for 2-12 weeks throughout the year. 

Cockatoo at Rescue Centre

16th April to 29th April 2018
30th April to 13th May 2018
14th May to 27th May 2018
28th May to 10th June 2018
11th June to 24th June 2018
25th June to 8th July 2018
9th July to 22nd July 2018
23rd July to 5th August 2018
6th August to 19th August 2018
20th August to 2nd September 2018
3rd September to 16th September 2018
17th September to 30th September 2018
1st October to 14th October 2018
15th October to 28th October 2018
29th October to 11th November 2018
12th November to 25th November 2018
26th November to 9th December 2018
10th December to 23rd December 2018

The above dates are a guide, however, volunteers that join on short-term programmes (2/3 weeks) should arrive on a Monday, and will thus leave the project on a Sunday. Volunteers that join for 4+ weeks should just arrive on a weekday, even though it is preferred that all arrive on a Monday to facilitate training and welcome together. Volunteers need to arrive in Manado before 6pm, or you would have to arrange hotel/hostel overnight at own costs. Only in the case of a delayed flight will it be possible to be picked up after 6pm. Please email charlotte@workingabroad.com for further details or any questions about dates.

Programme Costs

The cost for 2 weeks is £900, 3 weeks £1015, 4 weeks £1105, 6 weeks £1355, 8 weeks £1560, 12 weeks £2035. This covers food (3 meals a day), accommodation in the shared volunteer house, airport pick up, training, in-country and WorkingAbroad Project support. 

The costs don’t include flights to/from Manado, health and travel insurance, visa fee, airport drop-off and personal expenses. It is mandatory for you to take out travel and medical insurance for the duration of the project.

Lodging, Food, Travel


Volunteer House at Rescue Centre

There are typically between 6-10 volunteers at any one time, even though there is capacity for about 20 volunteers in total. Volunteers stay in male or female dorms with 8-12 beds (4-6 bunks) per room. The accommodation is a communal volunteer house with kitchen, dining area and recreational area. Each dormitory has a balcony and beds are separated in personal spaces with lockable cabinets.


Breakfast, lunch and dinner will be provided for by the project, as well as access to fresh fruit and drinking water. For environmentally sustainable and animal welfare ethical reasons, the project serves food free from any animal products/derivates. There may be fish or eggs on request, sustainably harvested locally.   

Volunteer communal areaWeekly trips to supermarkets in neighbour towns are regularly organised for volunteers, who wish to buy any extra food/items. However, you will not be allowed to bring any red meat to the house. If you find yourself missing a carnivorous diet, there are plenty of nearby restaurants that sell a range of other meat and fish dishes.


Manado (MDC) airport is the nearest airport to the Wildlife Rescue centre in North Sulawesi. If you arrive in Manado after 6pm you will need to book a hotel for the night, and you will then be picked up the next day at your hotel. If you decide to stay at a hotel further away than the airport, like in the city centre, there might be an extra fee. Pick-up from the airport after 6pm can be arranged, but only in unavoidable situations such as delayed flights etc.

Visa for Indonesia

As a volunteer, you would need to get a Social / Cultural visa to do voluntary work in Indonesia. The initial Social / Cultural Visa is valid for 60 days, and can be extended with 30 days at a time, up to a maximum of 180 days. You will have to include an invitation and sponsor letter in order to apply for a Social / Cultural Visa, which you will be able to request from our local project partner in Indonesia, if you are accepted on the project. Please allow at least 30 days for the visa process to be fully handled, and take contact to your local consulate/embassy for updated information related to your nationality. It is for the individual volunteer to make sure to check that they are eligible before applying, and that they follow the instructions provided. Not doing this might prevent you from gaining the visa successfully.

Free Time

View from lodge over bay

On your day off you can arrange your own trips. You can easily arrange your own local outings as there are a variety of day trips available. Also, don’t miss some of the best diving and snorkelling in the world. Special rates are available for volunteers at our project. There are also discounts for volunteers who wish to follow a PADI diving course. Or just enjoy the luxury of a well-earned overnight stay in a beach resort.

Every week a group excursion or activity is also planned and all volunteers are invited. This usually takes places Wednesday afternoon, and thus volunteers are free from work. Activities include a visit to Tangkoko Nature Reserve, where you have a good chance of seeing tarsier, hornbills and crested macaques, a walk through nearby ravine to a bat cave, when in season, or regular trips to the Masarang sea turtle conservation programme are organised for visitors and volunteers.

Health Information

As a volunteer, you are required to have certain vaccinations up-to-date. These include Tetanus (usually combined as DTP) and Hepatitis A & B. These are required to keep volunteers and animals safe and healthy.

An up-to-date immunisation for Typhoid is recommended. A Rabies pre-exposure vaccination is not needed for your stay. Rabies is not present in the animals on site, but you may want to consider it if you are travelling in Indonesia and South-East Asia before/after your stay. Although the rescue centre is not in a malaria area, and there have not been any records of Japanese Encephalitis in the region, it is recommended that you take preventive measures against mosquito bites.  It is always recommended to also check with your own GP for any updated recommendations.

Interactive Map & Background

The Rescue Centre is set in a beautiful location in a former coconut palm plantation on a hill near the sea, overlooking the Lembeh Straights and near the town of Bitung in North Sulawesi. It is just a few hundred miles north of the equator and has a typical equatorial climate with two seasons: rainy and dry, although this is less noticeable on the coast where the Centre is situated.


North Sulawesi has its own microclimate and the differences between the seasons are not as great as those described in many of the travel guides to Indonesia. The Dry Season lasts from April to October with just the occasional shower and the Wet Season begins in November when cool north-westerly winds arrive from the South China Sea.  Rain falls mainly in brief but heavy showers throughout the Wet Season. Temperature averages between 23-35°C in the Dry season and 23-30°C in the Wet Season. If you are unused to a tropical climate you will find work very hot and sticky for the first few days until your body adapts to the climate. But there are always cooling breezes and a dip in the sea to look forward to after work, though please remember the beach is shared by the local villagers and always observe the dress code for swimming and relaxing on the beach.

How to Join the Project

Volunteers and Staff at Rescue Centre

If you are interested in volunteering in Indonesia, you will need to fill out the online application form (you can also print it out and send it to us by post). To secure a placement on the project, please complete and submit the form, including your application payment of £195. If for some reason, your application is not accepted, we will reimburse this payment fully. However, for those who are accepted, the full amount needs to be paid two months before arrival. Once we have confirmed your place, you will receive a pre-departure package with all detailed information on the project, safety, Indonesia, suggested items to bring etc.

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