We would like to share this post written by Justin Wateridge, Managing Director of Steppes Travel.
On Thursday many young people – perhaps a child, grandchild, niece or nephew of yours – received their A level results, but what does the future hold for them?
Perhaps not one with pongo pygmaeus.
To you and me that is the Bornean orangutan which is now feared to have less than 50,000 individuals and hence last year it was listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the highest risk category. We hear much in the news about elephant ivory, rhino horn and the hunting of lions but little or nothing of the enigmatic man of the forest.
Yet every year orangutan populations are threatened because of their habitat, low-lying tropical rainforest, is being destroyed and converted to oil palm plantations. Orangutans and the majority of biodiversity supported by tropical rainforests cannot co-exist with oil palm plantations. The use of fire to clear land for plantations is an additional risk to an already serious threat.
An encroaching human population is adding to the orangutans’ habitat loss. Last year the Orangutan Foundation rescued many more threatened animals than they have before – only half of these were orangutans, the rest were a diverse range of forest creatures including sun bears, leopard cats and slow loris.
Having just come back from Indonesian Borneo, I met with the inspiring Ashley Leiman on Wednesday to see what more Steppes Travel could do to support the Orangutan Foundation UK the only one of six orangutan agencies in the UK that has permanent projects of the ground.
Given that today is International World Orangutan Day I would urge you to think about what you can do to help, either directly via the Orangutan Foundation’s website or better still by travelling with your family as I did to see orangutans in situ or join our revamped Orangutan Conservation tour.
Yes you can see orangutans in this country but only in a handful of zoos – Blackpool, Chester, Colchester, Durrell and Twycross and we believe there is no substitute for doing so in the wild.
Participants of the Steppes Travel Borneo group tour will be joined by an expert from the Orangutan Foundation, offering exclusive insight into our conservation projects taking place in Central Kalimantan.
Alternatively, you can support our Forest Restoration Programme in Indonesian Borneo by purchasing a copy of our book: “The Orangutan’s World“.
This wonderful book provides a glimpse into the world of the orangutan through a collection of photographs of the flora and fauna found in Indonesian Borneo.