Matang Wildlife Centre

Welcome to Matang

Matang Wildlife Centre is situated at the western corner of the Kubah National Park in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo, and is covers around 180 hectares of lowland forest.

The aim of the centre is:

  • Education. Students from primary to tertiary institutions can do nature studies as a supplement to their classroom activities. Special groups and the general public are also welcome.
  • Research. The Centre will cater for researchers from local and overseas universities.
  • Conservation. Endangered animal species confiscated from the public will be rehabilitated here as an effort to promote awareness on the conservation of these species.
  • Recreation. Visitors can relax by the rock pools and waterfalls, or trek along the nature trails.

Matang is near the beautiful town of Kuching which has a charm about it, not a large tourist place and has kept its traditional charm. I have stayed at a wonderful guest house called Singassanna Lodge, the people bend over backwards to help you and have turned out to be really good friends over the months.

From here its only a 40 minute drive to Matang Wildlife Centre, a great place very peaceful except for the noises of the forest which is tranquil in itself, and volunteers and visitors can stay in chalet accommodation which was nowhere near as basic as I had expected.

The rain forest is wonderful hard to describe the feeling when you are there.

Click the links below to find out more information about the animals at Matang which I will keep adding too:





















There are now so many more animals, Samba Deer are in abundance and plans are being made for the local community to start looking after them this has been welcomed by all the locals and if successful will take a big strain off the wildlife centre.



There are now 5 Bintarong(bear cat) 2 civet which have paired up really well together, 9 pig tailed macaque and 12 long tailed macaque with more monkeys due in any day. A large croccodile arrived after a 17hr drive from Miri.






The local staff are still working well with the volunteers and barbeques that now involve all the workers and their families are sometimes a weekly event, this communication has made a real difference to the daily work as everybody gets to know each other so well.












On the 29th April George a large dominant male Orangutan was transported from Semmengohh rehabilitation centre to Matang after Richie the Alpha Male made it abundantly clear that George was no longer welcome there, they had had a massive fight and it was a rush against time for Hillary our Orangutan man to  stop any further fighting by coaxing George into a cage. The vet was then informed and asked to arrive early the next morning to sedate George ready for the move, it was a great responsibility for all concerned as sedating and transporting such a large potentially dangerous animal weighing in at well over 100kilos posed a great many risks, a team was put together and everybody knew their job, the whole operation ran like clockwork and George arrived sleepy but awake enough to be aware that there were two very interested females Chiam and Ganti in the cage next to him. He has settled in well and the plan is that he will eventually be released with the two females








Doris is still happy to go into the forest but is reluctant to climb trees, she is spending time with Mamu and they have become very close the plan is that she will feel so attached to Mamu that she will follow her into the trees, as soon as Mamu see’s a tree she is off climbing so hopefully his plan will work. This course of action has meant that Tingsan and Mamu have stopped for the moment being in the forest 24 hours a day, the weather has been very wet especially at night and more can be gained at the moment in concentrating on Doris. Doris has shown her maternal side and is happy to carry Mamu around as if she was her own baby this is encouraging to see as it shows she has some maternal instinct.

My visit was far too short this time but I’m glad that I came back  my plan is still to go to South Africa and learn about smaller primates where this will lead me I am not sure but hopefully once I have gained some knowledge on the care of these animals I will be able to put this experience to use.



I arrived at work one morning to find a baby deer was to be collected from the deer enclosure, unfortunately we have a large dominant male out there that posed a threat to it and as the baby already had slight injuries to its legs it was felt for its own safety it was to be removed.. The deer whom I named Sanganne ( after the lady deer keeper at the centre) was a lot larger than I had first thought so after catching it and carrying it back to the centre in torrential rain we were both filthy

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She was taken back to the centre and put into quarantine to be checked over and her injuries looked at. We. weighed her and took measurement for our records.


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She was obviously tired after her mornings activities so we offered her a bottle of milk which she was eager to drink but found drinking from a bottle a lot harder to get than her mothers milk so a small syringe will be used until she learns how to suck out of a rubber teat and then we left her to rest




She has settled well and is quite happy for us to look after her and give her milk, once she has established a good feeding pattern we will move her into Doris the female Orangutan’s enclosure, Doris has played substitute mum for lots of orphaned deer so she will be fine.




and then when she is a bit bigger we will move her into a new enclosure that volunteers have been working on this month it is set in the forest and covers about an acre, it has been so carefully thought out and made with everything a deer could possibly want it is in dense forest with a stream running through it,there we will be able to safely look after her with four other young deer.


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My First Experience Volunteering at Matang Wildlife Centre

Many things happened within that first couple of weeks, it took time to get used to the routine and every day bought something different, a young orphaned orangutan had been bought to the centre and named Ting San, a cheeky little girl who captured everybody’s heart, a large crocodile caught up in a fisherman’s net had to be careful untangled and the start of talks into building a new sunbear enclosure, anything can happen so no day is ever the same. The local people welcome you with open arms and the staff at Matang Wildlife Centre are very dedicated to their work and love to share their time with the volunteers.


Living and working with people you have never met was exciting and I would thoroughly recommend it, weekends were good as you left the centre and were able to visit other places of interest.(see article on Bako)

The Great Orangutang Project is working with Sarawak Forestry to build up this centre and on my return visit, after a period of 4 months so much had been noticeably achieved. The animals seem very content and enjoy the daily enrichment which is mainly done by volunteers. Nobody ever seems to want to leave after their experience.


You can volunteer at Matang with the Great Orangutan Project (who i went with!)

My first visit to Matang

I had the most wonderful experience at Matang Wildlife Centre. One of the main issues was Aman, a very large male who had developed cataracts, I very rarely saw him move, and although he seemed content to just remain in one place most of the day. He was very sociable when you went to visit him, it seemed a shame that he had no interest in his surroundings obviously because he could not see them. I can remember putting hard boiled eggs in the grass very near to where he sits and watching him trying to find them, he knew they were there but could only feel around with his hands to find them it was actually quite upsetting to watch.

Whilst there I was also fortunate to be one of the first group of volunteers to meet Ting San, a young female orphan she had arrived at Matang Wildlife Centre the day before we arrived. She was from the start an independent young lady, always knowing what she wanted and invariably nearly always getting it., she was quite small and after having been wormed and a good diet introduced came on leaps and bounds, I was fortunate to spend that month watching her getting used to her new home and getting some security back in her life

Baby Ting San (Gus)

The other big change whilst I was there was a change in all the animals diet, by the end of the month most of the animals had had other foods introduced and on the day I went home I can remember seeing the bears laying in the sun sleeping and looking very contented, I have to say that was the highlight of my experience.

The centre is small with a variety of animals it has a very friendly atmosphere and everyone is very passionate about what they are doing, there is a lot more to do but it will happen. The orangutans are great, playing with Doris and watching little Ting San grow up daily was amazing, its an experience very hard to put into words but as long as you are prepared for hard work in hot conditions and can cope emotionally with different standards of animal care you will have a great time. I have the pleasure of going back to Matang in July 2007 and am looking forward to seeing the improvement of Aman and the rest of the centre.



Contemplating: Doris takes a momement to think


A new year at Matang (2008)

January 2008

I returned to Matang Wildlife Centre not sure what to expect, it was a new year with new staff and a new beginning. It was great to be back and all the animals seemed happy and contented, the keepers now work a full day which makes all the difference to the place, quarantine was clean and the place had an air of efficiency about it, there is a new manager there who is determined with the help and expertise of Way out Experiences to make the place a centre of excellence. I had two priorities, the first to see the progress of the bear project and the second to see Ting San, the young orangutan with whom I had spent last summer with. Both were great.


The cages for the night dens had been erected and were just awaiting a roof but otherwise progress had been good and was almost finished, hopefully within the next two weeks the 4 sunbears would have a new home, the bears looked well and Leo and I fed them live grubs, the two females Corine and situ ate them readily where as Bernie and Jo the two males were more cautious. Feeding these bears a more natural diet is the way forward to the first steps towards their rehabilitation.

Nearly There: New Sunbear outdoor enclosure

New Out door Enclosure

Ting San

Ting San was calm and obviously very happy with her new mentor, a local man named Hillary. My work with her rehabilitation into the forest last year was rewarded with a great deal of affection. She clearly remembered me and kept herself firmly by my side arms and legs attached to me so that I could not escape, as much as I was touched by this visible sign of affection I am also aware that this contact is not what she needs as her future lays in the forest and not with human contact. So she was, after a very touching reunion, encouraged to leave me and returning to the trees, which she did without any stress. It was a very emotional afternoon all round as not only did I have the love of this amazing animal but I was also priviledge to be able to be at the start of taking Doris an 8 yr old female orangutan into he forest to start her long journey back to the forest where she belongs. She leaves her enclosure daily and is taken along the boardwalk to the platform (built by volunters) where once she has settled in is quite happy to allow me to video her confidently swinging through the ropes, having only ever seen Doris in her man made enclosure this is an amazing sight. Hopefully she will develop a love for the forest and be eager to continue returning there.

Ting San learning what she can eat in the jungle

Ting San


28 Responses to “Matang Wildlife Centre”

  1. Lesley roger, Says:

    We are seriously considering volunteering and coming from Scotland. Not afraid of hard work, you have inspired us greatly, just hope that being in our fifties would not be a problem.

  2. heather roberts Says:

    Hi lesley

    Sorry for the delay in replying but been very busy with the moving of the sunbears which happened on Friday, it was very succesful and also for me emotional.
    Dont worry about being in your 50′ I am 52 this year and love every minute of it as long as you can cope with the humidity the work is at your own pace infact I sometimes put the younger ones to shame.
    It is a great experience and you leave feeling very satisfied that you have made a real difference, I shall be sad to leave when my experience ends.
    Hopefully this week I will post more blogs as so much has happened please keep reading and good luck in whatever you decide to do.


  3. Bruce Johnstone Says:

    you of little of faith – told you i’d look at your stuff
    vcery immpressive

    thank you for a great month at Matang. Keep up the enrichment!!!

  4. heather roberts Says:

    thanks Bruce and thanks for all your info on vervet monkeys hope to follow it up. Take care hope to see you again xxx.

  5. kay tompkins Says:

    Hi heather
    What a great site you have put together. I loved it. Im going over in July 08, any tips/advice or things I could take over that would be useful for the project?
    Thank you
    Kind Regards

  6. heather roberts Says:

    Hi glad you enjoying site I am in S.A. at moment having a different experienc e with vervet moneys
    the only thing I would not be able to do without in Borneo is fly repllent preferably with deet in the mosquitos are awful and a jacket for the rain.
    have fun and keep in touch.

  7. Jesse Reason Says:

    Hi I am very interested in the Matang Wildlife Center and volunteering there. Any advice on how to get in contact and arrange to help? Hope all is well, Jesse

  8. Caro Sapienza Says:

    Hi Heather

    I will be doing 4 weeks at Matang in November 2008 (am so looking forward to it). Anyway, I’m starting a blog with wordpress and was wondering if it was easy to upload to in Kucing. I am taking my laptop and would appreciate any advice. Thanks a lot.

  9. fru winston Says:

    hi I just browse throgh your site its wonderful.Ilike it. keep up.
    limbe wildlife center.

  10. Ken Stokes Says:

    What a pleasant surprise to find this web site featuring Doris. In 2006 when my wife and I visited Matang she was sad and lonely, and fortunately for me she wanted my friendship and company, even to sharing her sweet potato, first bite for bite and finally half each. She has been constantly on my mind, and it is wonderful to see her being rehabilitated. A second pleasant surprise for my wife is seeing that George is now at Matang, we say goodmorning to him each time we switch on the computer, (screen saver). Hope to visit soon.
    Ken and Jeannette Stokes, Adelaide, South Australia

  11. Tahlia Says:

    Hey!! I have just arrived back from the Volunteer program in Matang!! It was the most amazing experience of my life and I cannot wait to go back. Just intriuged to know were Leo and Tasha two of the main keepers the first time you went?? They were fantastic and I believe the centre has come a long way since Leo and Hilary took over 🙂

  12. Anonymous Says:

    hi so glad you enjoyed your experience, I worked with Leo and Natasha and loved every minute of it, I have written a book on my experiences if you would like to e-mail me at we could talk more.

  13. Kuching (Malaysia): Logis, Kost und mehr « Infos für Globetrotter Says:

    […] Kuching (Malaysia): Logis, Kost und mehr Von globetrotterinfo Hinterlasse einen Kommentar Kategorien: Länder-Infos, Malaysia, Reise, Tipps und Übernachtung Tags: asien, Übernachtung, Borneo, Kuching, Malaysia, Reise, reisen, Sarawak, tipps Kuching ist die Hauptstadt des malaysischen Bundesstaates Sarawak. Mit 635.000 Einwohnern ist sie die größte Stadt auf der Insel Borneo. Die Stadt liegt an der Nordwestküste, am Sarawak-Fluss. In Kuching demnächst für alle Musik-Fans ein Muss: Rainforest World Music Festival vom 9.-11. Juli 2010. An- und Weiterreise: Mit dem Flugzeug von Singapur oder von Kuala Lumpur (Air Asia, Malaysia Airlines, Silk Air). Von Kuching kann man mit Bus oder Schiff gen Sibu fahren, um von dort per Boot nach Kapit und Belaga zu gelangen (jeweils eine Tagesreise). Übernachtung: Budget: Nomad Borneo B & B (ab 18 RM – 1 Euro = 4,3 RM) Singgahsana Lodge (ab 50 RM) The Fairview Guesthouse (ab 25 RM) Mittlere Preislage: Harbour View (ab ca. 30 Euro) Gehobener Standard: Sheraton (ab ca. 300 RM) Hilton (Bezahlbarer Luxus ab ca. 55 Euro / DZ) Essen und trinken: Ring um ein großes – unübersehbar buntes – Parkhaus nahe der Waterfront finden sich preiswerte Küchen für jeden Geschmack. Tagsüber kann man auch im Souterrain des „Papageien“-Hauses essen. Etwas teurer wird es direkt am Fluss. Sightseeing: Sehenswürdigkeiten der Stadt sind das Sarawak-Museum, das Katzen-Museum, das Fort Margherita, die Kuching Waterfront mit dem Chinesischen Museum, der buddisthische Tua Pek Kong Tempel, der Hauptbasar mit dem nahe gelegenen Wet Market und verschiedene Katzenstatuen in der ganzen Stadt. Am Wochenende öffnet der riesige Weekend Market; er hat einheimische Lebensmittel, tropische Fische, Gemüse und Urwaldfrüchte im Angebot. Kuching eignet sich sehr gut als Ausgangspunkt für einen Besuch im Bako-Nationalpark oder zum Besuch eines Langhauses. Empfehlenswert ebenfalls: Der Kubah-Nationalpark und das Matang Wildlife Centre. […]

  14. Laura H Says:

    Hi Heather,
    My name is Laura and I live in NSW, Australia. I am nearly 16 years old and my family is interested in doing some volunteer work with animals overseas. I have had my eye on the Matang Wildlife Centre for some time now and was wondering if you could please send me some information regarding the available projects/opportunities – e.g. age minimum, medical history, training, type of work, etc.


    Laura H

    • Heather Roberts Says:

      Hi Laura, if you contact The Great Orangutan Project and ask for Julie she will be very helpful and accomodate your needs, it is amazing project that does so much good, all you need is basic common sense and the desire to work hard and make a difference and you will come away feeling you have done some good.
      There are many different price options and Julie will talk you through it.
      Good Luck

  15. Val Ede Says:

    Hi Heather
    Have just looked through your blog and you obviously enjoyed your stay at Matang. I’m going in January 2011 and am just beginning to get cold feet. I’m a little older than you (72) and its the first time I’ve done anything like this especially on my own. I’m a bit worried that I won’t be able to cope with the humidity etc. Any tips on what to take, clothes, shoes etc and where the hell do I get a mosquito net?!! any comments would be very much appreciated.

    • Jo Pickering Says:

      I am coming to Matang as a volunteer later this year and would like to hear any preparation hints. I cant wait to get stuck in but as 21 passed me by a while ago I too have a few little niggles. Any help would be much appreciated.
      Many thanks

      • Valerie Ede Says:

        Hi Jo
        Please dont worry about coping at Matang. I had no idea how I would cope as I had never been to Asia and had never done anything like this before. It was the most amazing and rewarding thing I have ever done and has had a profound effect on my life. You will enjoy every minute. Leo and Tasha are great and will give you all the help you need. You won’t be pushed to do anything you don’t want to. I did get quite tired at times, even fell asleep a couple of lunch times but nobody minded. I am off next week to volunteer at the Cheetah Sanctuary in Namiibia but hope to go back to Matang next year. Would be interested to har how you get on.
        Val Ede

  16. margaret brooks Says:

    hi,margaret brooks,so glad to hear about beautiful Ting San,I now have an orang utan doll,so lifelike and the same weight as a baby orang and cost £100,+2 more.They are called Umi,risa and jala.Its the best I can do until I can hopefully return to kuching for another visit.

  17. Benny Says:

    What a great experience. I went to Matang Wildlife Centre every time I stayed on Borneo. Orang-utans are wonderful animals and I took hundreds of pictures so that I always have a souvenir with me.

  18. Yin Young Says:


    I am desperate for help from vet doctors. My dog is terribly sick for almost 2 months and has been on glucose drip for days. We found out that she was poisoned last month. We took her to vet in Kuching but she did not receive proper medical check up. Her condition got worst and we sent her to a much better doctor who found that she’s got poisoned and gave her better medication. But she also found out that my dog has muscular distrophy that suddenly emerge. My dog does not want to eat, but only drink. She also keeps vomiting and is weak (therefore glucose drip everyday), and her stomach contracts almost all the time. The doctor said her chance to survive is 50/50 and will not have quality of life if she survive. We want to put our dog to sleep, but she understands us and show signs that she doesnt want euthanasia but instead wants to survive. She’s weak now, but got slightly stronger and then weaken back again like a on-and-off cycle. We want to seek a second opinion because her medication is too expensive if we continue to send her to vet everyday without knowing if she will recover and it seems like her muscular distrophy doesn’t happen gradually but sudden. It only appears recently. We can still see she’s strong if given glucose drip. She can walk and still greet us like she used to if given glucose drip. But without it, she weakens. She used to be a hyper active dog until 2 months ago when we find something is wrong with her. She’s a 5 years old Labrador Retriever.

    Please, we are desperate for help. It hurts us to see her in pain, but we are unsure if we should give her euthanasia because she doesnt want to give up and appears to show signs of hope that she would survive looking at her determination and when she gain strength (but unfortunately weaken again although its on-and-off).

    Please contact me asap by phone if you are able to…We love her so much to see her continue to suffer. We dont know who else to seek help from.

    Thanks you Doctors!


    If you cant contact me, you can contact my mom at 0168996158 or my house phone at 082361066 and tell us that its about our Dog named Summer.

    Thank you very much!!!

  19. Yin Young Says:

    Btw Doctors, just in case, if you are in overseas, you can call me or my mom by dialing +60 followed by the 9 digits number (eg: +60128837817)

    I’m flying off to Australia this Wed (6th July 2011) and if you cant reach me, you may call my mom.

    Please, if you can make it, please call us asap because we are now deciding whether to put her to sleep. It hurts us very much to see her suffers everyday.

    Thank you very much again!

  20. Dorraine Job Says:

    Hey, do you ever get in touch with the Orang Utans while working there? And how many Orangs live there at the moment?

  21. Proudhon Says:

    I discovered your blog on http://orangutanheather.wordpress.
    com/matang-wildlife-centre/ and I’m extremely thankful I did. I feel as though you’re reading my mind right
    now. You appear to to know so much about this, as if you wrote the book on it or something like
    that. I think that you can do with a few pics to drive the message home a bit, but
    other than that, this is great blog. I will most definitely be back.

  22. Lyn Says:

    I have just found and read your blog. I visited Semenggoh in 2006 and have a very clear memory of George, who was a superb specimen of an Alpha male. I was sorry to hear that he has been ousted by Richie, but am glad that he went to Matang and two young ladies were interested in him. I am off to Matang to volunteer on the 4th April 2014 and really looking forward to it. So glad to hear that older people have a part to play as I am 62.

  23. Daniela Says:

    I’m interest in volounteer, 4 weeks before August.

  24. Kuching (Malaysia): Logis, Kost und mehr | Globetrotter-Info Says:

    […] Sightseeing: Sehenswürdigkeiten der Stadt sind das Sarawak-Museum, das Katzen-Museum, das Fort Margherita, die Kuching Waterfront mit dem Chinesischen Museum, der buddisthische Tua Pek Kong Tempel, der Hauptbasar mit dem nahe gelegenen Wet Market und verschiedene Katzenstatuen in der ganzen Stadt. Am Wochenende öffnet der riesige Weekend Market; er hat einheimische Lebensmittel, tropische Fische, Gemüse und Urwaldfrüchte im Angebot. Kuching eignet sich sehr gut als Ausgangspunkt für einen Besuch im Bako-Nationalpark oder zum Besuch eines Langhauses. Empfehlenswert ebenfalls: Der Kubah-Nationalpark und das Matang Wildlife Centre. […]

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