Can you imagine a world without orangutans? For us meaningful warriors at Rickshaw, it’s a world that doesn’t bear thinking about. But the sad truth is that one day it really could be a reality. Want to do your bit to protect them? Read more about the serious threats that orangutans face and 7 things you can do to help protect them…
We are family!
The Jungle Book’s King of the Swingers, Louie, might have sung about wanting to be more like you-ooo-ooh, but he really wasn’t that far off. Orangutans (a name which literally translates from Malay to, ‘Man of the Forest’) have more in common with us than you might think. In fact, these great apes share almost a whopping 97% of our genetic make-up.
On the brink of extinction
There are two species of orangutan on our glorious planet; the Bornean and Sumatran orangutan. Both famous for their striking red fur, they spend much of their lives way up in the treetops; making nests and feasting on wild fruits.
But sadly, both species of orangutan are now classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This means that our ginger cousins now face an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild. Why?
Two words: habitat loss. It’s shocking to think that in the last 30 years, orangutans have lost around 80% of their habitat (orangutan.com). 80%! Oh yes, deforestation has a heck of a lot to answer for, with much of the rainforest disappearing to make way for oil palm and other agricultural plantations.
And while much of the orangutans’ rainforest home in Borneo is technically protected by the Indonesian, Malaysian and Brunei governments, illegal logging and uncontrolled burning (as a result of the Palm Oil industry) still poses huge threats to their habitat.
According to the Orangutan Foundation, Indonesia lost 1/5 of its forest cover between 1990 and 2010, and it has been warned that by 2022, 98% of Indonesia’s natural rainforest may be destroyed. And as these forests fall, so does the population of orangutans. Heartbreaking.
So, what can we do?
7 things you can do to protect orangutans:
1. Avoid products that contain unsustainable palm oil
Palm oil is an ingredient that is, often unnecessarily, used in loads of household stuff; from biscuits and instant-noodles to cosmetics and cleaning products. Very annoying. And to make it even trickier, it’s often disguised as “vegetable oil”. However, as Palm oil plantations are a major source of deforestation, avoiding products that contain it is more important than ever when it comes to protecting the rainforest and its inhabitants. Need more info? Here’s a handy guide to going Palm Oil free.
2. Buy FSC-certified products
Another way you can keep an eye on the products you buy is by looking for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) – certified label on wood and paper products. By doing this, you’ll ensure that the products you put in your trolley come from sustainable forestry.
3. Go green!
Spoiler alert! Recycling is better for the planet than not recycling. I know, pretty radical, huh? Yes, by salvaging used packaging, office paper, used-batteries, and old mobile phones, as well as buying recycled products where possible, you’ll be doing your bit to conserve the world’s precious fuels and resources. Nice one.
4. Support a charitable organisation
There are plenty of amazing conservation organisations out there, whether it’s WWF, Orangutan Foundation or Sumatran Orangutan Society. If you’re truly passionate about protecting orangutans, there’s a lot you can do to show it! Give them a cheeky like on Facebook, make a small donation, buy a t-shirt for your brother on his birthday or even ‘adopt’ an orangutan at Christmas. A small gesture can go a long way, y’know!
5. Start a fundraiser!
Want to inspire change yourself? It’s a piece of cake… literally! Last year, the Rickshaw gang did just that. We decided to raise awareness of endangered orangutans for Orangutan Awareness Week by setting up a Just Giving page & raising dosh though a ginger-themed bake sale- with all money going to Orangutan Foundation.
Sound like a challenge? Whether you want to run a marathon (yeesh!), climb a volcano (yikes!) or get your bake on (yum!), simply get in touch with the lovely folks at Orangutan Foundation for your own fundraising kit!
6. Join a volunteer programme
If all the above just isn’t enough, and you fancy getting your hands dirty, there a plenty of amazing volunteer opportunities across Borneo and Sumatra- just make sure you do your research and opt for one that puts conservation before profit! And remember, any project worth its salt won’t allow direct contact with orangutans.
This year I was lucky enough to join a fantastic project in an area of restored rainforest in East Kalimantan, Borneo. It was blimmin’ hard work, but an amazing feeling to be part of a group of passionate folk, mucking in together to make the world a better place for great apes!
7. Tell your mates
We all love setting the world to rights down the pub with our mates. So why not chew the fat about something truly meaningful? It might sound trivial, but sharing those articles on Facebook, telling your friends and family about the threats faced by orangutans, and sharing these simple actions can make a real impact.
Power to the people!
Discover orangutans, with Rickshaw
Our meaningful trips give you the chance to experience the best of a destination, in a way where everybody can benefit. Here’s how you can respectifully experience orangutans, the Rickshaw way:
Visit the famous Sepilok orangutan centre, Borneo
On our Orangutan and Jungle Boat Cruise trip in Sabah, Borneo, you can drop in on the red-headed residents of the famous Sepilok Orangutan Centre. You’ll also get the chance to sail across Borneo’s longest river, Kinabatangan and head deep into the jungle, far away from civilisation. You’ll get the chance to spot Proboscis, Gibbons, Orangutan, and if you’re lucky you may even see wild pygmy elephants!
Spot great apes in Semenggoh, Borneo
Nip over to Borneo’s southern state, Sarawak, and not only will you be treated to Mangroves, Monkeys & Fireflies, but you can visit the Semenggoh Nature Reserve, home to Borneo’s most famous resident, the Orangutan! You can also take a wildlife cruise on the Santubong and spend the night in a tree house in the jungle- cool!
Spot orangutans in the treetops of Sumatra
If you’re up for a walk on the wild side, our Swinging with the Apes experience will take you deep into the heart of Bukit Lawang, on a mission to spot the Sumatran orangutan. You’ll head out to explore Gunung Leuser National Park where you’ll hike through the jungle, wobble across wooden bridges and end up in the perfect spot to see semi-wild orangutans.