June 25, 2009

Orangutans... facing extinction

I like Orangutans. One of my most moving moments was when I was taken behind the scenes by a colleague at Auckland Zoo and saw the enrichment programmes they were doing with them. One of my past students was also there as a keeper, and a number of the other keepers appeared from different departments all over the zoo to help, twice a day. As I watched them working with these wonderful animals I had been cautioned to stay silent ... but emotions just spill over and when you can't make pleasurable noises, what else can you do? I cried quietly.

At one point, my friend hung from his arms, pressed against the glass, mirroring the Orang Utan female who then stared deeply into his eyes, for a long time. He finally moved away, his own eyes wet and admitted that he found it very hard to not be moved when working with these animals, because of the intelligence in their eyes.

I had heard that Orangutans, traditionally used to swinging across water in the trees to avoid the risk of crocodiles, had learned to swim. There are no forests to swing over anymore!  This morning, I read The Pet Blog who has posted some superb pictures of them and they even appear to be enjoying the water.... and for a great article with some excellent pictures that can be enlarged for desktop use, go to The-orangutans-overcame-fear-water-crocodiles-swim-search-food.html

But lets be honest. They are adapting to the destruction of their environment and if you search further, the situation is worsening due to the need for palm oil!!! Artery clogging oil at that!

So today I was sad to hear that a British company is adding to their problems!
Oil boom threatens the last orangutans

The Independent: Kathy Marks: 23 June 2009
A famous British company, Jardines, is profiting as the lowland forest – which shelters the few remaining orang-utans – is razed to make way for massive palm oil plantations, reports Kathy Marks in Tripa, Indonesia
Perched halfway up a tree near a bend in the Seumayan River, a young orang-utan lounges on a branch, eating fruit. In the distance, smoke rises from an illegal fire, one of dozens lit to wipe out the virgin rainforest and replace it with oil palm plantations.
It's burning season on Indonesia's Sumatra island, where vast tracts of vegetation are being torched and clear-felled to meet the soaring global demand for palm oil. The pace is especially frenzied in the peat swamp forests of the Tripa region, one of the final refuges of the critically endangered orang-utan – and a company owned by one of Britain's most venerable trading groups is among those leading the destructive charge.
Do read more at Borneo Orangutan Survival

My brother has also been involved with them because he is a mining engineer and has spent a lot of time in Indonesia over the past 20 years. He often talked about the impact the destruction of the rain forests, the burning of the trees, was having on them, and the amazing job the rescue team was doing. Now, the Rescue Sanctuary is also facing a crisis - please read this site and you can also make donations on it.
Orangutan rescue sanctuary in need of saving



  1. very touching, Fi! and to think that i just posted about the joy of wildlife and nature...but it's not only that our kids don't have time for them, it's also because there ain't much left of 'em!
    sad, very sad...!
    hey we are having storm here, hope you are enjoying a good weather there.

  2. They are wonderful animals. It's awful taking away their natural habitat.

  3. That is very sad, they are so cute:)
    xoxoxo Hope your trip has been splendid :)

  4. I need to stop by more often. I really enjoyed this post.

    I'm looking forward to the day we don't need oil for so much of what we do.

  5. I love primates of all shaped and sizes...but this brought tears to my eyes, they can't just be wiped out, I love them to much!

  6. Oh my, I'd say that picture is cute but utterly sad is what comes to me first and it stays with me there. Boy, we sure are doing a job on our world (and their's.)

  7. Certainly would be a shame to lose such creatures. I've always felt a sort of kindred with them - red hair and all :-)

  8. Gorgeous picture of the wheelbarrow babes!

    There's been program on our television recently which has been really interesting and very informative.

    CJ xx


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