If anywhere conjures up images of old-time explorers with safari hats and magnifying glasses, it’s Borneo. It’s part Indonesian and part Malaysian, and is home to a 140-million-year-old rainforest.
It’s not hard to see why it would be a hub for conservation volunteering. It’s possibly the most biodiverse island in the world, and it’s definitely one of the most in need of protection. Extensive deforestation started in the 1960s, and it’s spread faster than any other instance in human history.
There are multiple factors contributing to the island’s destruction, but one of the most pressing is palm oil. Private companies clear the forest to make way for new palm oil plantations, and the produce is used in food, cosmetics, toiletries – almost anything you could find in a supermarket.
It’s impossible to know how many species have been driven to extinction through this practice, or how many indigenous people have had their lives and homes disrupted. Activist groups are constantly in need of new volunteers to help raise awareness and to further conservation efforts.
Aside from volunteering, there’s no end of adventures to be had in Borneo. The famous dive site, Sipadan, is said to be the best in the world. There’s a series of ecolodges along the Kinabatangan River where you can do some wildlife spotting, as well as animal sanctuaries on either side of the border which are home to semi-wild orangutans, sun bears and rhinos to name but a few.