Orangutans are our closest relatives, sharing 97-per-cent of our gene pool, yet alarmingly these beautiful creatures are facing imminent extinction.
Perth vet Dr Louisa Fenny predicts that in just three to five years Orangutans will become extinct because they are losing so much of their rainforest home.
“The number of the remaining Orangutans in the wild is very hard to specify as they are quite elusive animals, difficult to track, but there only about 3,000 to 5,000 left,” says Louisa.
But she’s one of those caring people who won’t give up the fight to help save these wonderful animals.
Louisa is raising funds for the Orangutan Foundation International, with her organisation Wilderness Warriors hosting a special dinner/art/film event at PLC on Tuesday night.
The evening will raise funds to purchase rainforest area to help protect the Orang-utans in Borneo, Indonesia.
“We are screening award-winning documentary The Last Trimate about the amazing Dr Biruté Galdikas, who has been working in the Borneo rainforest since the 1970s,” she says.
“She has done incredible studies on Orangutans over the past 40 years, and she continues to live in the rainforest there. The documentary covers her work and the issues facing these great animals, and why they are facing extinction right now.
“It is produced by Perth veterinarian Dr Stephen Van Mil who’ll will be coming on the night to give an address.”
An art exhibition and auction titled ‘A Celebration of Biodiversity’ will follow the film and most of the artists will be in attendance.
“Eight artists are donating work, and several have been drawing beautiful portraits of the Orang-utans especially for the night. We also have a collection of wildlife photographs.”
Dr Fenny says that she has had “amazing experiences” with Orangutans in Borneo.
“I have been volunteering there three times over the last two years, so I definitely have a very personal connection to the Orang-utans. There’s a bunch of orphans that I met in April 2013, which I visited again in September this year. I am also going back to Borneo this Christmas, which I’m excited about,” she says.
“They are so much like humans, in that they experience emotions, and they have such unique personalities, they are really remarkable creatures. It is almost a form of genocide that we are wiping out this species.”
By purchasing palm oil free products, we can all help save these beautiful creatures.
“It is the palm oil industry that is causing or creating the loss of the rainforest,” she says.
“Any products containing palm oil should be avoided,” says Louisa – “and that includes ‘certified’ palm oil. The legislative board that are certifying it to be sustainable palm oil have a lot of problems.”
All too often, a product labeled “contains vegetable oil,” actually uses palm oil.
“The problem is that you generally won’t know if you’re buying palm oil because it is not currently stated on the label as such. Any product that contains ‘vegetable oil’ mostly contains palm oil because it is the cheapest to produce.”
This event is the second Louisa has organized; she plans to host another in June next year. She hopes to inspire others to start fundraising.
“I will be creating a template so that others can host their own fundraising event throughout Australia,” Dr Fenny says.
“I am helping a friend in Broome at the moment to organise a similar kind of fundraiser like this one next year, and am looking for other people to take some leadership and throw similar events.”
Dr Fenny says she will never give up on the Orangutans.
“It is a huge battle to help save them, but no I will never give up; it would be an atrocity to allow one of our closest relatives to become extinct,” she says.
“Buying rainforest is essential to the survival of this species because it is the only way their habitat can be protected from deforestation.
“Running an event like the one on Tuesday gives me hope because so many people love to get involved and take action, if given the opportunity. The goal of Wilderness Warriors is to inspire others to get connected to nature and make a difference, helping protect our precious habitats and species.”
Tickets are $45 for the event on Tuesday December 9 from 6pm-10pm at the Hazel Day Drama Centre.
Tickets include a drink on arrival and Indonesian dinner and you can visit this website to book: www.trybooking.com/113606 ‘The Last Trimate’
To get more information about this worthy cause and to donate visit this website: www.orangutan.org
You can also visit Louisa Fenny’s blog: www.junglecrusaders.com – and joining this will keep you in touch with developments.
If you want to get involved with future events email Dr Louisa Fenny: firstname.lastname@example.org