Bank it volunteering story – Isabel Fielden

CCRI’s Project Support Officer has been a volunteer at Vale Wildlife Hospital in Beckford, Gloucestershire for the past two years, working with injured British wildlife. She also works part-time at a vets. Her love of animals prompted her to apply to a volunteer programme at Cikananga Wildlife Centre in West Java, Indonesia and she was delighted to be accepted.

Preparing animal food

Cikananga is the largest of eight Wildlife Centres in Indonesia which were set up to assist with the confiscation and rehabilitation of endangered species. Deforestation for palm oil and illegally smuggled wildlife are the main factors currently causing the decimation of Indonesian wildlife species. Cikananga works as part of a network across Indonesia, including rescue, breeding and release programmes.

Isabel took a month’s leave from CCRI from June-July 2019. She worked as a volunteer from 7am-4pm six days a week for three weeks. The centre is based in Sukabumi, West Java, a six hour journey from Java’s capital, Jakarta, 800m up in the hills in thick, tropical jungle. The centre houses 350 animals including critically endangered pangolins, slow lorises, crocodiles, turtles, orangutans, sun bears, hornbills and many different types of primates and birds.

Giant turtle pool

“The adventure started with a 17 hour plane journey, arriving in hot and dusty Jakarta. To get to Cikananga, I had to hop on a motorbike taxi, balancing my suitcase between my knees, catch a public bus for three hours with guitar players and sellers hopping on and off, get to a hotel which no longer existed, then get picked up by the centre staff for another hour and a half’s journey on unmade roads high up into the mountains. It was all so exciting. I had such a sense of achievement when I finally got there. The three weeks volunteering was physically very demanding, but I loved every minute of it, and did not want to leave. Indonesia really gets into your blood, and the locals are very friendly. The insects are quite impressive too: a plethora of huge beetles, snakes, scorpions and spiders.”

Clouded leopard being fed

Isabel logged her volunteering hours under the university’s Bank It scheme, and was awarded Bank It Staff Volunteer of the Year Award 2019. Bank It is a joint initiative by the university and the Student’s Union that logs volunteering hours carried out by students and staff during an academic year.

Basic dormitory facilities
Using a machete to cut Yukka plants for habitats