19th August is one of the most important dates in the conservation calendar – it’s World Orangutan Day! Every year this date is set aside to raise awareness and educate the public to the terrible plight faced by the Orangutan in Borneo and Sumatra. It is designed to get people involved and do what they can to conserve this incredible species, which is at crisis point.
As Ambassador for Orangutan Appeal UK I’ve been working with orphaned and displaced Orangutans and rehabilitating them back into the jungles of the Malaysian State of Sabbah. The situation in Borneo is truly devastating and the population of Orangutans has fallen by more than 50% over the past 60 years. I vividly remember the very first time I saw an Orangutan in Borneo and it was a incredibly moving experience. These beautiful creatures are unique and as soon as I experienced seeing one swinging in the canopy of the forest I knew I had to do all I could to save this endangered species. This is our closest living cousin and we share 96.4% of our DNA with these animals - they are so human.
Today Asia's great ape is confined to just two islands, Borneo and Sumatra. The Bornean orangutan is estimated to number around 54,000 individuals, while there are around 6,600 Sumatran orangutans. Orangutan Appeal UK is dedicated to the maintenance of wild populations of Orangutans as well as caring for Orphaned and displaced Orangutans and rehabilitating them back into the wild. This is an incredible organization where 70 pence in every pound goes directly back to the Orangutans.
When baby Orphaned and displaced Orangutans are first brought to the centre they will spend a few weeks in quarantine before joining the other babies in the indoor nursery. Here they will play with each other and develop vital life skills such as climbing and how to forage, which will put them in good stead for the next stage of their rehabilitation.
Here's a video of the rehabilitation process in action.
The Orangutans in the Outdoor Nursery are 4 years and older and here everything is bigger. The trees are bigger, the climbing apparatus are bigger and they are given free range within the Kibili Reserve. Here they also learn a great deal from older wild orangutans that come into the reserve for the easy pickings of food placed on the feeding platforms. At this stage of rehabilitation the Orangutans explore the forest, spending longer and longer periods of time in the reserve foraging on a wider variety of food. Eventually they will become self-sufficient and return to the wild and hopefully start breeding.
Everyone can get involved on International Orangutan Day and the best way to help is to donate to Orangutan Appeal UK or adopt an Orangutan today. I have an adopted Orangutan called Bidu Bidu. He is adorable and is now well on his way to being fully rehabilitated and hopefully one day be released back into the wild. You can see the wonderful relationship with Bidu Bidu in this video and just how you can do your bit to help and adopt today. You will receive and an adoption pack with photos of your Orangutan and given regular updates on their progress.For just £36/ year you can help take this beautiful animal off the critically endangered list.