International Animal Rescue's Orangutan Project

International Animal Rescue's Orangutan Project

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  My name is Patricia Cuthbert and I have been volunteering for International Animal Rescue's Orangutan Project as a fundraiser and raising awareness on the plight of the critically endangered Orangutan of Indonesia and Malaysia. 

 It was roughly 4 years ago that I stumbled upon a story on the internet about an infant Orangutan who had been taken after his mother had been killed by poachers. This baby was found curled up inside a cardboard box soaked with his own urine, suffering from malnutrition and almost unrecognizable. Later named Gito, he would have been taken from his murdered mother and sold to someone as a pet where he would have been kept in deplorable conditions. He was rescued by IAR and was treated for the many ailments resulting from the abuse he endured.

  The story was gripping and I had to know more, I couldn’t let it go. I started researching how and why something like this could happen to such a precious animal and I discovered that it was a very complex, multifaceted issue. I was both devastated and angry in my fellow mankind, disgusted actually. How could we, not only be allowing this to happen, but actually be a part of the cause by way of our gluttonous consumerism. I couldn't sleep or stop thinking about it and fell into a slump, feeling completely helpless and powerless. I knew that I had to become active in some way if I was to ever feel hopeful again.

 I prayed that night and asked for help, "help me to help them, in some way". I knew nothing about fundraising and even less about raising awareness, there was still so much I needed to learn myself before I could ever talk about the horrors   these animals were facing on the other side of the world; nevertheless I was inspired and discovered a kind of energy and passion I didn't know I was capable of. I have always said that my fundraising efforts are very small scale; I have done yard sales, raffles and host an annual "Orangutan Pub Night" and while I think of myself as amateur in the world of fundraising, I do feel that thanks to the support and generosity of my communities I have been able to help.  

 Clearing land to make way for palm oil plantations has resulted in mass deforestation, in Indonesia and Malaysia where more than 80% of the world's palm oil is produced. This has destroyed the natural habitat of animals including Orangutans, tiger, rhinos and elephants, pushing many to the brink of extinction. It had also resulted in large volumes of greenhouse gas emissions. The forest clearance has also displaced indigenous people, depriving them of their livelihoods and threatening their culture and way of life.

 Orangutans as well as many other wild animals are being driven from the forest in heart-wrenching scenes that go unnoticed in Western Media. So many of us here in North America have no idea of the devastation and suffering taking place; it's at a huge cost for us to be able to enjoy so many of the products that we do. Orangutans not only lose their homes to forest fires, many burn to death or die from starvation. Even if these animals survive the fires, they are often brutally killed when they make their way onto palm oil plantations in search of food. When mother Orangutans are killed their babies still clinging to them are often injured, traumatized and sold into the illegal pet trade where they are kept in horrible conditions or spend the rest of their lives chained up and caged. 

 The plight of the orangutan in Indonesia has reached a critical stage, with the survival of the species under serious threat. Animals are suffering and dying because of the systematic destruction of the rainforest, primarily for palm oil production, particularly in Kalimantan, the Indonesian part of the island of Borneo.

 International Animal Rescue’s team is working in West Kalimantan to rescue and care for baby orangutans that have been taken from their mothers to be illegally sold as pets and adults that have spent their entire lives in captivity, chained up or imprisoned in tiny cages. Their human-orangutan conflict (HOC) team also comes to the aid of orangutans left stranded when their forest home is destroyed and these vulnerable animals to safe areas of protected forest. Any animals that can no longer survive in the wild will be given a permanent home at the . The project is an ambitious one but IAR is committed to rescuing and rehabilitating as many orangutans as they can and giving them a second chance to live safely in their natural environment.

 This has become a conservation emergency, please consider helping  support organizations like International Animal Rescue so that they may continue the work they do. In addition to hosting " Pub Night" anyone who can't make it to Guelph but would like to contribute can donate on my facebook fundraiser page.  

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