Orangutan Awareness Week: Protecting the ‘Man of the Forest’

Orangutan Awareness Week: Protecting the ‘Man of the Forest’

Posted by Sam Hopkins on 1st Nov 2013

Of all the animals that our projects work to conserve and protect, the mighty orangutan is closest to our hearts, as The Great Orangutan Project was our founding programme, where it all began. Since then, we have expanded our reach and now offer opportunities to work on five separate projects in Indonesia and Malaysia that strive to ensure the conservation of this amazing species.

Sadly, despite the incredible work put in by both the staff and volunteers involved in these projects, orangutan populations in both these locations and many others are still under threat. The main cause of this is mass deforestation and destruction of the natural habitat that the orangutan (or 'man of the forest') calls home. Huge swathes of forest area are continually razed to the ground through legal and illegal logging, the aim of which is very often to create ground-space for oil palm plantations, or other agricultural produce. This is leaving countless orangutans without a home, and subsequently unable to survive.

Aside from the plight of habitat loss, orangutans are also very easy targets for hunters and poachers, as they are large and fairly slow-moving. In some circumstances, orangutans are shot and captured for their meat, or in others, by farmers who have claimed their land for agricultural purposes and see them as a pest to be disposed of. However, in many cases, orangutans are not killed directly, but captured to be sold into the pet-trade. This problem is especially germane to females and infants, snatched from their natural habitat and forced into a life of captivity and often cruel treatment. The demand for orangutan pets is especially high in Indonesia, and is having an increasingly adverse effect on their numbers in the wild.

In order to raise the profile of these issues, from the 11th to 17th of November many orangutan trusts and charities will be joining together for Orangutan Awareness Week, to promote the continued struggle of this species and what can be done to reverse their worrying decline.

Orangutans are considered a 'keystone' species in the rainforest areas they inhabit. A 'keystone' species is one so integral to the ecosystem, that their survival directly affects that of countless other species in the same habitat. In other words, the extinction of the orangutan would have implications far beyond the loss of just one animal. It is this message that needs to be communicated, most notably to the indigenous communities who share their homes with populations of orangutans.

In order to do our bit for Orangutan Awareness Week, we are offering all of our orangutan projects with a 15% discount, for any bookings made in November. Check out the Malaysia and Indonesia tabs on the left for information about these projects!


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