Both the Bornean and Sumatran Orangutans are now classed as critically endangered, and this means that they are both at an “extremely high risk of extinction.” Orangutan Awareness Week gives us the chance to focus on the ways in which our actions impact the lives of these wonderful creatures, in the hopes of preventing their populations from slipping further.
Robyn from Orangutan Appeal UK kindly answered some of our questions;
Why do you think Orangutan week is important?
"We think Orangutan Week is important because it helps to raise awareness of the plight of the orangutan. If more people are made aware of the struggles faced by the orangutan and of what is being done to help, it may inspire them to get involved. Raising awareness is even more important now that the Bornean orangutan has been downgraded by the IUCN to 'critically endangered' rather than just 'endangered'. The orangutan is more at risk than ever and needs all the help we can give."
What can we do to help protect the Orangutan population?
"There are so many ways people can get involved to help orangutans. Here at Orangutan Appeal UK we support projects at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre and throughout Borneo. We work to raise awareness and funds for these projects. For example, we have recently donated extra funding to OuTrop, which is a project helping to fight the forest fires in Kalimantan. This funding helps to provide teams of fire fighters who are vital in helping to protect the orangutan's rainforest home. We also fund 5 permanent members of care staff at the rehabilitation Centre who give the orphaned orangutans the best care possible, while this also helps to support local communities and encourage positive feelings towards wildlife in the area. People can help us with these projects by making a donation to the Appeal, by adopting one of our adorable orangutan babies on our adoption scheme or by fundraising for us. We have endless fundraising opportunities from runs to cake sales. Perhaps the most important way someone can help though is to make others aware of the challenges orangutans face."
If we don’t change our ways when do you think Orangutans will become extinct?
"This is a difficult question and unfortunately one that I am unable to answer. Having not been involved in scientific research into possible timescales it would be unethical for me to make a guess. I understand that other conservation groups and scientists have estimated this but for me to make an uninformed guess could prove detrimental to conservation efforts. What I can say though is that since the reclassification of Bornean orangutans to Critically Endangered (which I believe contributes to the theme of Orangutan week 'Critically Endangered, Critically in Need'), they are more at risk than ever and more in need of our help. At Orangutan Appeal UK we will continue to do whatever we can to help save this beautiful species from extinction."
You can buy both the bag and cute Orangutan on Orangutan Appeal UK's website and also find out more ways to support the cause.