Orangutan Week Is Almost Here and This Is How Travelers Can Help

| November 16, 2019 | 0 Comments

One hundred years ago, more than 300,000 orangutans roamed the forests of Sumatra and Borneo.

Today, a mere 20 percent of that number remains as the habitats of these remarkable animals continue to be decimated by everything from illegal logging to forest fires and the never-ending demand for palm oil.

Across Borneo, where forests are among the most biologically diverse habitats on Earth, more than 50 percent of these green spaces have disappeared over the past few decades, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

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“A century ago, most of Borneo was covered in forest. But the region has lost over half of its forests, and a third of these have disappeared in just the last three decades. The increase in these activities is being matched by a growth in illegal wildlife trade, as cleared forests provide easy access to more remote areas,” says the World Wildlife Fund.

The sad result of such realities is that all orangutan species are now critically endangered. It is believed that there are about 104,700 of the Bornean orangutan still in existence, while there’s only about 7,500 of the Sumatran, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

There’s also a third species of orangutan, the Tapanuli orangutan, which is the most endangered of all great apes, with about 800 individuals remaining in existence.

“The destruction of the rainforests from illegal logging, ‘slash and burn’ and the pursuit of palm oil is a huge threat to orangutans. As well as reducing habitat for orangutans and other endangered species, poaching is also more prevalent around palm oil plantations: orangutans that stray onto farmland may be shot as pests,” Justin Francis, founder, and CEO of Responsible Travel told TravelPulse.

November 10 through November 16 is Orangutan Caring Week, an annual event aimed at drawing attention to the plight of the critically endangered orangutan and its rainforest home.

In addition to perhaps making a donation during Orangutan Caring Week or even hosting an event to raise funds that can be used to help save orangutans, it’s also possible to play an important role in preserving these animals while traveling. In fact, tourists can have a critical impact simply by choosing holiday experiences with care.

If done well, tourism can help deter irresponsible practices by offering local communities a sustainable, alternative source of income, thus providing a way of life that encourages conservation of the forests the orangutans call home.

“For travelers eager to take a trip to see orangutans, look for initiatives that work with communities—on reforestation projects, or in community tourism which allows them to make money from the forest in its natural state,” said Francis, who also stressed the importance of traveling with a responsible operator.

Here are some additional tips from Responsible Travel for globetrotters who want to help protect these “people of the forest” when making travel decisions.

—You should never be offered the chance to come into contact with orangutans themselves. A common cold can kill an orangutan, and human contact reduces their chances of successful reintroduction into the wild. Don’t support centers that fail to adhere to these policies as it threatens the orangutans.

—Helping rehabilitated wildlife is merely sticking a plaster over a wound, said Responsible Travel. Ideally, there would be no need for these centers in the first place. However, the best centers will make their responsible tourism policies clear—you’ll also be able to speak to biologists and researchers, be told how your entrance fee is used and learn about the success rates of the rehabilitation programs.

—Many tour operators donate a percentage of the tour price to conservation or reforestation programs. This is an easy way for you to make a difference, and by choosing an operator with a conscience, it encourages other operators to do the same.

—You can support orangutan conservation even if you’re not able to travel all the way to Southeast Asia. You can do this by adopting an orangutan from the Orangutan Foundation, or becoming a member.

Want to learn more? Read more tips here and check out the Responsible Travel orangutan travel guide here.

Orangutan Tours From Responsible Travel

Responsible Travel offers a variety of small group trips in Borneo ranging from a wildlife photography course to Borneo cycling tours that are tailor-made, as well as family volunteering breaks.

The wild heart of Borneo

A tailor-made holiday adapted to your interests. The trip captures Borneo’s many wildlife and cultural highlights, from the fascinating waterfront capital of Sarawak, with its Chinese temples, grand mosques, bazaars and traditional homes, to the important Semenggoh Orangutan Sanctuary.

You’ll also visit Batang Ai National Park, where you’ll be guided through the jungles by the indigenous Iban tribe, the ancestral custodians of the park and its rare wildlife, and have the chance to stay in an Iban longhouse.

Orangutan photography course, Borneo

A breathtaking opportunity to develop your photography skills. In association with the Orangutan Foundation, you’ll photograph the wildlife of the Tanjung Puting National Park.

There are no roads so exploration is by boat and foot. You’ll glide along rivers and view a huge variety of wildlife including orangutans, proboscis monkeys, agile gibbons, crocodiles, hornbills, kingfishers and lots of other birds.

The group is limited to seven and includes tutorials and one-on-one advice, and you’ll stay at a comfortable and eco-friendly rain forest lodge. Suitable for anyone with a digital camera and a love of nature.

£350 per person from this trip is donated directly to the Orangutan Foundation to help them conserve the Tanjung Puting national park.

Borneo cycling wildlife holiday

The vast wildlife of Borneo is waiting to be discovered and photographed on this active, exciting and lower-carbon adventure. Pedal your way through national parks and pristine coast, with delicious local cuisine to sustain you between rides. Meet orangutans in Sarawak’s wildlife parks, and discover the huge variety of flora and fauna that forms their habitat. This guided small group cycling holiday moves through a fascinating range of landscapes and terrain. Along the way, you will cross rivers, ride boats and trek through rainforests as you journey from one beautiful region to the next.

Borneo family volunteering holiday

Volunteer as a family, you’ll be planting trees and helping conserve an area decimated by mass deforestation. Working alongside the local tribespeople and amid stunning scenery, you’ll take part in tasks that benefit the natural environment and the species that can be found within it, including orangutan and elephant.

This is truly a life-changing experience that will open your child’s eyes— and your own—to a whole new culture, as well as deep learning about worldwide conservation efforts.

Culled from :Here

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