World Orangutan Day is an annual, worldwide event to create awareness and support for orangutans and for all the people who dedicate their lives to saving these iconic animals from extinction.
The main threats to orangutans are habitat loss because of the conversion of forest areas into monocultures and mining, followed by hunting for bushmeat. Many orangutans get captured or killed crossing plantations to find food after being dislodged by the increasing destruction of their habitat. Adult females are often killed and their infants sold in the illegal wildlife pet trade. Orangutan populations are estimated to have declined over 50% during the last 60 years, leaving the danger of imminent extinction in the wild very real.
International Animal Rescue’s rehabilitation centre for orangutans is located in West Kalimantan which is one of the most heavily deforested areas of Borneo. Between November 2009 and August 2013 more than 75 orangutans have been rescued by the IAR team in Indonesia (Yayasan IAR Indonesia - YIARI) and brought to the sanctuary of our centre and the number of animals in need is rising.
To increase awareness and knowledge about Indonesian orangutans YIARI collaborated with two other local NGOs, Gunung Palung Orangutan Conservation Programme and Fauna and Flora International-Indonesian Programme and the local Forestry Department and organised a march between the two biggest roundabouts on the main street of Ketapang.
About 150 people from all four organisations gathered on World Orangutan Day to distribute 500 tree seedlings, stickers and posters to passing motorists and pedestrians whilst holding up signs with conservation messages and singing an orangutan song. Participants from the Forestry Department spoke about orangutans and the threats they face via a loudspeaker.
Whilst this day is a symbol of global connectivity and action and important to create a greater public awareness and understanding nationally, it is equally (or perhaps even more) important to educate the communities living alongside orangutan habitat and engage as many locals as possible to participate in the conservation of this unique species.