Wildlife habitat restoration
KOPEL (Koperasi Pelancongan Mukim Batu Puteh Kinabatangan Bhd)
Wildlife habitat restoration
Weekly cost (approx USD):
Direct benefits you gain:
remote scenic location
Noteworthy conservation points:
development goals (supporting local community)
forest corridor restoration
When does the project run?
accommodation included, food included, nearby medical facilities, shower (bucket), toilet (western)
How long can I stay?
Contact us first, Terms & Conditions, Safety, Code of Conduct
Details of the day-to-day life on the project:
We’d be happy to have you here at any time apart from our peak visitor season (July-August)...
There is a lot of support work to be done with the village cooperative KOPEL, but I think the focus of our efforts at present will likely be;
(a) the work we are doing to remove the invasive water weed Salvinia from the Tungog Lake, and
(b) the forest restoration work, both of which is mostly ongoing throughout the year.
(c) There is also ongoing upgrading/repair work at the Tungog Rainforest Eco Camp also.
Check our website for more information. there is a link there for the lake and forest restoration work there also for more background. You are welcome to stay at the homestay or Eco Camp, although logistically and for wildlife observation the Eco Camp is at the heart of it all…
We charge a flat rate of *MYR60 per day* per person for volunteers which covers all lodging, all meals (full board), daily boats to/from worksites, as well as small financial contribution to the conservation projects (covers tools, fuel, equipment etc..).
You would work alongside local staff, and depending on length of stay, aptitude, skill etc.. would be given more autonomy to work individually on projects over time…
Please note: that we are in the heart of the Kinabatangan floodplain. Although your focus may be volunteering, it is done with a backdrop of some of SE Asia’s most amazing forests and by far the highest density of lowland wildlife in Borneo and Asia. Local culture is amazing in its own and being a community program, you won’t be a stranger in our village… Our place is a great place for forest walks, wildlife and bird watching, trekking, caving, and so on... Village life can be fun too… Depending on your energy and work program, each day, there should be plenty of time to do river cruises to see the wildlife or simply relax and focus on photography or simply swing back in the Jungle…
There is also other information about the wider KOPEL (previously MESCOT Initiative) on our website , plus some brief information about our volunteer program, and what you may expect as a volunteer here with us. This info is rather general in nature, but the website maybe a good place to start, and then if you have any more specific questions, you can write us after that.
Common Questions answered as follows:
1. Are we correct in thinking we would be part of the Homestay initiative?
Yes and NO, (KOPEL is a community co-op) we run the village homestay initiative, but volunteers do not necessarily have to stay at the homestay. For volunteers who choose the homestays, they normally stay with a family for one week, then change to a new family for each subsequent week they are here. This gives a chance to experience differences across our community, and shares some of the benefits of volunteers bring to each family they stay.
Volunteers also stay at the Eco Camp, and in Hammock Camps, depending on the work, and their interests. I live at the Eco Camp. These days we encourage visitors to stay here at the Eco Camp. There is no extra cost for volunteers, it is actually cheaper for volunteers to stay at our Eco Camp.
2. From the website it suggests that the Homestay fee is MYR70/person per night, so we just wanted to check this is still correct?
KOPEL charges a basic fee, which includes food, lodging and logistical expenses (transport by boat, bus, additional tools, etc). These fees also cover tools and local excursions, local guides etc… There are two accommodation options and the costs will be different as follows:
(a) KOPEL charges MYR85.00/day per person, to cover all meals, accommodation in the village homestay, tools, boats and bus transfers.
(b) KOPEL charges MYR60.00/day per person, to cover all meals, accommodation at the Tungog Lake Eco Camp, tools, boats and bus transfers.
This is a flat rate, so volunteers can choose their accommodation across the options with KOPEL.
Given we work mostly in the surrounding Forest Reserve, it is only accessible by boats and transport costs make up a large part of the costs of moving personnel around for different work tasks and projects.
It also makes sure we have the right tools for the job, as our field tools and equipment is always getting worn, broken or damaged and sometimes even lost. This also covers local guide for forest walks, local excursions, wildlife observation cruises etc… Ensures a good balance of work and play.
3. Do we need to tell you exactly how long we will be staying or can this be flexible once we arrive? At the moment we hope to stay as long as possible, visa permitting.
Yes your stay is totally flexible and up to you. We would prefer a rough idea of your intended length of stay upfront, and then a kind of week in advance update of your onward travel movements if they change. Most volunteers take time off, during their stay, and in between work projects or tasks. Your time is totally flexible working with us, and depends also on how work pans out here. In the jungle & working with local community participants means we all have to be very flexible to deal with all the many things that arise here.
We normally work 5 day week, but if you choose just to work 3 or 4 or even less, it is up to you. Or alternatively work half days, this is also possible, as we want to work with what works best for you and our staff here, and the surrounding environment conditions. Even so, within this flexibility, there is a local form of “arrangement and order”, whereby it will be very important for you to keep us informed of your plans and personal schedule, so we can plan the overall work activities, and so other staff can also plan their work. Likewise we will do our best to inform you of our schedule and any changes on our side.
4. How many volunteers do you expect to have for the summer, and how are the activities organised?
At this stage we have only one or two other volunteers who may overlap with your intended dates.
Otherwise, moving into July, this is our peak visitor season. Visitors are mostly school groups, who also do a mix of curriculum based work alongside some community or environment project (short volunteering activities). For longer staying volunteers, we would normally allocate separate project work, however there will likely be overlap with student volunteers (groups) at some point… especially at our village base, or in the nursery, or even on the planting sites.
5. Please could you advise how best we can reach you from KK?
Bus is cheap and easy (takes 6-7hours). Direct from KK Long Distance Bus Terminal at Inanam. The main road from KK to south of Sabah goes through our village. At Inanam Bus Terminal go to the Ticket Counter for any of the buses to Lahad Datu or Tawau (we normally suggest Tung Ma Bus Company, because they typically seem to drive slower and more carefully, although they are all pretty much the same). Buy tickets to Miso Walai Homestay (or KOPEL) Kinabatangan, they mostly know it, but if they don’t know that, tell them you want to get off the bus at the Kinabatangan River Bridge. The village cooperative’s office (KOPEL) is under the Kinabatangan River Bridge
Alternatively you can take a flight from KK to Lahad Datu OR Sandakan (both options are pretty cheap also, flight takes 50mins max), and we can arrange a pick-up from the airport. The bus transfer costs approx RM160-200/bus (up to 8 people) (Sufinah can give you the correct $ amount)
6. In terms of payment for food/lodging, is it possible to pay by card, or do we need to bring cash (and in which case will there be an ATM available nearby if needed at any point?)
KOPEL accepts credit card payment, but this is very new, So I’ll leave it to the team in the office to advise better regarding this. Payment is flexible also, so you can bring some cash perhaps, and pay the rest later (after at some point) as there will be options/days you may want a break in town, where an ATM is easy to get to.
7. Are there any particular items of clothing you would advise we bring? We have general work clothes, but want to make sure we are properly prepared before we come.
Clothes just the normal stuff will do. Long pants and sleeves is best protection against the sun, and other nasties in the jungle… If you have long stuff that is thin and cooling, would be ideal… (easier said than done)… Otherwise, nothing fancy, as it will likely get sweaty, muddy and smelly very quickly with local humidity…
8. Are there any other items you would advise we pick up from KK that may not be available when we get there?
A good torchlight is a must. Insect repellent. If you have binoculars it would be advantageous for wildlife observation. Water bottle (that can be refilled) is handy.
9. Will there be internet available while we stay with you? Yes but only at our village office.
s there internet available at our accommodation? No.
Is there internet access nearby? Yes, wireless mobile broadband is available most places, although signal strength is variable. if you have a local sim-card or local hand-phone number, you should be able to sign up for some very cheap mobile broadband (data) coverage. Celcom or Digi have a 3G network available here. Some places it is strong, other places it is only 2G.
12. Can we just check whether there are shops nearby for basics etc (we are just trying to gauge how much we need to bring with us)?
There are some local sundry shops, where you can get some basic items, but they will not have everything available. For drinks, snacks, toiletries, soaps, batteries, the basic stuff they will have it all…
13. How is local telephone connection / mobile telephone reception?
We strongly advise all volunteers to purchase a local Malaysian SIM card, local telephone contact number, as this eases communications, and is a must for safety reasons… As mentioned above, the mobile/cell-phone/hand-phone reception is mostly good, but there are some blank spots.
Sufinah or Syakirah at the KOPEL office usually handle bookings, so do let Sufinah know if you are interested to pursue some time with us.
If you do decide to spend time with us… we can then start to talk details, logistics, getting here, and learn more about you, so we can get the work mix right for you…
PS in the meantime, if you have detailed questions just let us know...
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