International Orangutan Day, Friday 19th August

WORDS: Katie Lettice PHOTOGRAPHY Supplied


Great Ape Conservation program calls on public support this International Orangutan Day

Friday 19th August 2022: Today, Borneo Orangutan Survival (BOS) Australia, who raise money to support the largest and arguably most successful great ape conservation program in the world, continues its bid to garner the nation’s support in what they say is a critical and urgent time to fight the extinction of great apes, with the launch of two global initiatives on International Orangutan Day – the Palm Oil Pledge, and the Wildlife Trade Pledge.

With only 55,000 wild Bornean orangutans estimated to be left in the wild, they face many threats with deforestation, habitat loss, illegal hunting, and illegal wildlife trade being the main threats to their wellbeing, survival, and population. The two new Pledges aim to encourage the public to become part of the solution by signing the Pledges online and learning practical steps to end these damning industries.

The illegal wildlife trade makes up a significant proportion of the global animal trade and includes animals that are used to perform for tourists, sold as pets, poached as ‘ingredients’ for traditional medicine, and killed to be made into trophies for hunters or souvenirs for tourists.

More than 7,000 animal species are illegally traded globally for various reasons, and the wildlife trade generates $23 billion USD – the fourth behind illegal drug, arms, and human trafficking.

“The Wildlife Trade Pledge aims to bring awareness to the billions of animals that fall victim to the illegal wildlife trade each year. When signing the Pledge, Australian’s will also find a wildlife trade guide that provides insights into the best ways to help stop the irresponsible wildlife trade and its cruelty, including how to identify reputable accrediting bodies like a Zoo or Aquarium that is held to high standards of excellence, and how to report a social media account or venue you feel may be exploiting wild animals. Ultimately, we implore the public to ask themselves ‘would I be ok living the life of this animal’?” says BOS Australia President,

Kerin Welford.
With the global demand for palm oil being one of the largest drivers of deforestation in Indonesia and the #1 reason for orangutan population decline, the Palm Oil Pledge looks to end unsustainable palm oil practices by encouraging more businesses to use sustainably sourced palm oil by increasing the demand for it, and showing commitment to support palm oil farmers who have put sustainable farming practices in place.

“Almost 90% of the world’s palm oil is produced in Malaysia and Indonesia on the island of Borneo, yet only 20% of global palm oil is sustainably produced. We can save trees and the thousands of species that depend on them by supporting the thriving sustainable palm oil industry that exists today and its adopted policies that promise no deforestation, no peat development, and no employee exploration – thus drastically minimising harm to local communities or the environment.” says BOS Vice President, Lou Grossfeldt.

A copy of BOS’ top tips for selecting the most sustainable palm oil products and a handy shopping guide can be found here.

With orangutans being our closest relatives and sharing 97% of our DNA, it may not surprise you to know the name orangutan derives from the Malay and Indonesian phrase ‘orang-hutan’, meaning ‘person of the forest’. These large, gentle red apes are highly intelligent with an ability to reason and think.

Both initiatives are free to pledge and take less than a minute to do so.

BOS Australia raises funds to support four main pillars of work in Borneo:
1. The rescue, rehabilitation, and release of orangutans back into the wild. To date, 497 orangutans have been released back in the wild.
2. Providing sanctuary care for orangutans and sun bears who are unable to be released. There is currently 400 + orangutans and 72 sun bears being cared for across the 2 sanctuaries in Borneo.
3. Supporting the development of sustainable communities in Borneo. This includes helping to develop plans for communities to establish sustainable incomes without the need to clear the forest.
4. Conserving the forest. BOS Foundation have >400,000 hectares of orangutan habitat under protection.