Today I am writing about easy ways to help save orangutans from extinction. I’m sitting at Samboja Lodge in Borneo, Indonesia. The lodge is run by Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF). It overlooks dense rainforest, with luscious green leaves and a million different sounds going at all times – there are so many insects, animals and birds chattering away, it’s hard to tell what’s what. The leaves up high occasionally rustle and if you’re lucky, you’ll spot some cheeky monkey’s jumping from tree to tree (don’t make eye contact though because apparently, they will try to punch on with you).
Once in a while, you’ll hear a loud, low, rumbling roar. It’s the long call of a male orangutan. This is one of the reasons I am here. Orangutans, our 3rd closest relative (sharing 97% DNA with humans), are in extreme danger of extinction. For too long we have destroyed their homes, hunted them for food, kept them as pets and for entertainment. They will not survive if we keep doing this.
The other reason that I am here is for the sun bears. They too, like many other animals, have been hunted, kept and treated cruelly by humans to the point where their species will be unable to survive without our help.
Thankfully, sanctuaries like this exist to protect, heal and care for the animals that come here. There are 164 orangutans and over 50 sun bears here. The hope is for the orangutans to be rehabilitated and released to the wild again one day. Unfortunately for the bears, it is unlikely they will be able to experience freedom again, as the bears who have been rescued and brought here are unlikely to gain the level of independence they need to survive on their own.
Can I help by making small changes in my everyday life?
Fantastic question. Why yes, you can. We understand that many people may not have funds to spare or they may already support other worthy causes, so we have listed some other great ways you can help save orangutans and sun bears from extinction. The good news is, you can help just by making some simple switches in your everyday life.
- Avoid purchasing products with palm oil unless it is from a sustainable source. We don’t recommend cutting palm oil out completely because this can shift the problem elsewhere. There is more information on palm oil here and a helpful list of responsible products here.
- When you travel, do not participate in any tourism activities that include captive animals in them. These animals are often treated cruelly, fed poorly and physically abused in their training process.
- Watch the movie, Green – a multi award winning film without narration or dialogue. It’s about an orangutan who was brought to a sanctuary and her devastating journey of suffering the effects of deforestation which is why she ended up there.
A disclaimer for the sensitive souls: this film shows some of the realities that animals in Indonesia face so it can be hard to watch at times. However, we think it’s really important it is seen so we can help those without a voice.
- Read up about Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation Australia (BOSA), the work that they do and tell all of your friends about them.
I’ve got a bit of spare cash, where can I direct it?
BOS Foundation are the main contributor of funds to help keep this and other sanctuaries in operation. They fund the food, shelters, staff wages and enrichment and welfare programs for the animals that live here.
As with most not-for-profits, they face a never-ending challenge to keep enough funds coming in to continue their work. So, if you find yourself in the fortunate position of having some money to spare, we would encourage you to make a donation. We’ve included a list of items that your money could go towards below:
$25 – Can buy a wheelbarrow to help the babysitters transport the baby orangutans to and from forest school.
$60 – Is enough for one month’s supply of nutritious fruit and greens for an orangutan.
$70 – Will be enough to supply a baby orangutan with milk for 2 months.
$100 – Can provide initial veterinary care for a rescued orangutan.
$300 – Can cover the required medical checks for an orangutan due to be released back into the wild.
$650 – Is enough to buy an orphan rescue pack. This will provide one month of milk, initial medical checks and follow up care, nappies and a babysitter for a rescued baby orangutan.
$5,000 – Can enable a rescue team to retrieve an orphaned orangutan that needs rescuing. This includes a team of rescuers and a qualified vet to ensure the safety and health of the orangutan. It also provides fuel for the rescue vehicle.
$10,000 – It’s a long shot, we know. But perhaps there are some secret millionaires reading the blog. If you find yourself with a spare $10,000 in your back pocket, this one is for you. A donation of this size could enable the release of a rehabilitated orangutan back into the wild. Your gift would provide:
– An extensive medical examination for the orangutan before it goes home to the forest
– An expert team to travel with the orangutan to ensure a safe and successful release
– Fuel for the vehicle to transport the team and the orangutan to safety.
If anyone reading this ends up donating $10,000 to support the release of an orangutan, let me know because I’ll be asking BOSA to take you along for the release journey!
Another great way to help is to adopt an orangutan. When you adopt an orangutan, you are helping to fund their everyday expenses such as food, shelter and enrichment. You will get regular updates on your adopted furry friend so you can see what they are up to. More than one person can adopt the same orangutan so there is always plenty of choice.
Is there anything else I can do?
So glad you asked. There sure is. You can go on a volunteer trip to Borneo to help which is what I am currently doing. I’ll be honest – it hasn’t been a very relaxing holiday. We’ve been working outside in the humidity every day and we’ve seen how deforestation; illegal pet trading and poachers have affected the beautiful creatures that inhabit this rainforest. It’s been emotionally tough at times, but it’s been rewarding.
It’s been so different to anything I have ever experienced before. I’m staying in the jungle where Wi-Fi is pretty crap so you just don’t bother with it and you really take in your surroundings. I’ve met amazing people, met some equally amazing animals, learned A LOT and worked on building things that will help to give a few animals a bit of a better life. It’s been an invaluable experience and I’d highly recommend it to anyone and everyone. If you’re interested in going, submit an expression of interest and the team at BOS would be happy to have a chat with you. If you’d like any further info feel free to get in touch.
That’s it from me for now. Thanks for reading and let me know if you implement any of the changes mentioned above or watch the movie!