A Trip of a Lifetime: Cathy’s Key Learnings

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We spoke to the lucky winner of our “Adventure of a Lifetime” competition, Cathy Parker, and asked her to share some of her key learnings from her trip to Borneo. Here’s what she had to say…

key learnings from the orangutan project

As the trip went on, Leif Cocks’ talks changed from teaching about the life and habits of orangutans to the situation there in Indonesia. The more he spoke the harder the plight seemed to be for the preservation of the forests and the survival of the orangutans. Some issues were;

  • Government approvals for land clearing are based on falsified reports that the portion of forest in question contains no orangutans, giving the green light to clear a forest. Foreign companies can then boast that their company does not destroy inhabited forests.
  • Orangutans have very defined territory, as more are displaced into smaller sections of forest, their natural lifestyle will see those excess apes die off until natural territories are restored to the new smaller size forest.
  • Government laws are not being followed or policed. For example no land clearing is allowed within 100m of the river bank, however many plantations are situated right beside the river.
  • Poaching is a big problem, so even as conservation organisations secure land removing it from possible clearing, they have to deal with poachers coming onto the land and taking orangutans for the black market.
  • Farming is a major source of income for the locals. If the demand for palm oil decreases, the farmers will simply switch crops to another product which has a greater demand.

After hearing of all these obstacles, you get a renewed sense of appreciation for the dedication of people like Leif and the work he does at The Orangutan Project.

The extent of effort made by the IAR (International Animal Rescue) team to release a rehabilitated orangutan back into the wild. Not only do they have an exhaustive search to find a suitable patch of forest that must pass a stringent series tests to deem it worthy, they then put in place a massive operation to safely move the ape to that forest, sometimes many days travel away, by car, boat and foot deep into the forest. Once released a team of volunteers follows the orangutan every day for up to three years to record their habits and eating ability to ensure that they are finding appropriate sources of food and staying healthy.

the plight of the orangutan

There is a hope that there is a new generation coming through that have a better education around the importance of the environment. We only need to preserve enough of it so they have something to inherit and work with.

– Cathy

the plight of the orangutan

As we are actively supporting the wonderful work of The Orangutan Project, Aware Environmental’s ongoing stance to produce strictly palm oil free products continues and extends to every product and range we create. While we recognise there is no easy solution, we as a company choose not to use palm oil in our products (and opt for dearer alternatives) so that we will never be directly a part of the problem that is the plight of the orangutans.

Find out why we choose to be palm oil free here.