The initial motivation to create this blog was to document my work as Ambassador for Orangutan Appeal UK to raise awareness and educate about the terrible plight faced by these beautiful creatures in Borneo. I wanted to be able to share my personal journey with this amazing organisation and inspire others to get involved and see the bigger picture. – if we save the Orangtuan we will save our planet.
So why focus on Orangutans when we could just as easily focus on elephants or rhinos, and countless other species which occupy their own ecological niche alongside these great apes in the forests of Borneo? Well the crux of the matter is that the rainforest is their preferred habitat which is so integral to the health of the global environment – and therefore the Orangutan is the perfect ambassador for protecting the tropical rain forests that are essential for climate regulation.
Orangutans are wide ranging solitary creatures that depend on hundreds of different plant species spread widely in the rainforest. This makes them the perfect umbrella species as by protecting their needs – by extension protect all the other species of the rainforest which plays such a vital role in combating climate change.
On the 28th October 2015 Orangutan Appeal UK had it’s prestigious annual reception at the House of Commons. The event was hosted by Bill Wiggin MP on behalf of the charity. The evening raised awareness of the threats to the endangered orangutan and the impact of deforestation on climate change. Stanley Johnson (pictured below) Bill Oddie OBE and Ian Redmond OBE (GRASP) were among the many important guests and leading conservationist Stanley Johnson was a guest speaker. Paul O’Grady, well known-presenter and comedian, was also announced by Orangutan Appeal UK as their new patron (pictured below).
The event is gaining momentum year after year and it was also an incredible education hearing from experts who are on the front line of this state emergency for the Orangutan and flora and fauna of Borneo in wake of the forest fires raging there. The director of Outrop (Orangutan Tropical Peatland Project) Mark Harrison (pictured below) was also at the event to give a first hand account of the problem and why it is imperative that the rest of the world understands why these fires are happening.
There are a huge number of raging fires in fires Indonesia – over 117,000 fires have been detected by satellite in Indonesia this year, and most have been started deliberately to clear forest for farming of palm oil – destroying primary rainforest. There have been around 100,000 fires have burned in Indonesia’s carbon-rich peatland since July.
There are 358 “hot spots” within the Sabangau forest in Borneo that has the highest concentration of Wild Orangutans about 7,000 and they have detected fires Tanjung Puting National Park that has 6,000 Orangutans and Katingan Forest where 3,000 and the Mawas reserve where there are an estimated 3,500.
In there undisturbed state flooded peatland forests are naturally fire resistant –but decades of poor peatland management practices such as extensive forest clearance and canal construction has drained the peat putting the whole region of high fire risk when the inevitable droughts occur.
Dry peat ignites very easily and can burn for weeks, even smouldering underground and re-emerging away from the initial source.
Other species are also in terrible danger such as the clouded snow leopard and the iconic hornbill – the situation is dire and getting worse everyday.
The fight continues…