IBERS student lands dream job with orang-utans

Montana Hull on a recent trip to Malaysian Borneo at Rasa Ria Nature Reserve with a local ranger

Montana Hull on a recent trip to Malaysian Borneo at Rasa Ria Nature Reserve with a local ranger

21 October 2015

Aberystwyth graduate Montana Hull’s dream of working with orang-utans has come true having gained a sought-after internship with the Orangutan Foundation International in Indonesian Borneo.

Montana has just completed a BSc and MSc at Aberystwyth University’s Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS). Montana will be working for the Orangutan Foundation International (OFI), a non-profit organisation dedicated to the conservation of wild orang-utans and their rainforest habitat.

Based at the Foundation’s research and conservation centre in Indonesian Borneo for one year, Montana’s new role will primarily involve collecting and processing data on orang-utans.

Montana graduated with a BSc in Zoology and has just completed an MSc in Managing the Environment at IBERS. She became aware of the Foundation through her studies and interest in zoology and conservation.

Dr Hazel Davey, Senior Lecturer in Biology and Director of Postgraduate Taught Students at IBERS was Montana’s MSc dissertation supervisor and said “The opportunity to look after baby orang-utans is an experience many people would pay for, yet Montana's is a paid position, with accommodation, food and flights. This is a fantastic opportunity and would be considered a dream job for many of our students and applicants.”

As well as looking after orphaned infant orang-utans at the Foundation’s care centre, Montana will be working as second PA to Dr. Biruté Galdikas, one of the founders of OFI and a well-known primatologist specialising in orang-utan research. Montana explains that she has always had an interest in primates and that meeting Dr Galdikas earlier this year and being offered the chance to work with her, is the realisation of a life-long dream.

The Foundation involves those living in neighbouring villages in its work as a means of reducing the farming of palm oil which is increasingly leading to habitat destruction in the area. Montana will therefore be living with an Indonesian family, for the duration of her stay. She hopes the experience will provide her with full cultural immersion and plans to learn as much about Indonesian language and culture as possible.

Montana explains "I have wanted a job involving orang-utan conservation for years, and to leave university to go straight into this internship really is a dream come true for me. I am very excited to have this brilliant opportunity and feel as though all my hard work paid off! It showed me that you can follow your dreams if you put your mind to it."

Montana departs for Borneo in November to take up a one-year-contract along with three other interns.

The Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) is an internationally recognised research and teaching centre providing a unique base for research in response to global challenges such as food security, bioenergy and sustainability, and the impacts of climate change. IBERS scientists conduct basic, strategic and applied research from genes and molecules to organisms and the environment.

IBERS receives strategic research funding of £10.5m from the BBSRC to support long term mission driven research, and is a member of the National Institutes of Bioscience. IBERS also benefits from financial support from the Welsh Government, DEFRA and the European Union.