It's predicted that orang-utans will be extinct in the wild by 2020. Their forest
home is being destroyed by logging and agriculture, and 80 per cent of their
habitat has been lost over the past 20 years.
In the ninth Saving Planet Earth celebrity expedition, Nick Knowles travels to
the rainforests of Borneo to witness the destruction and to see the work of Lone
Droescher Neilsen, who has dedicated the past 15 years to saving orphaned
orang-utans, in the final Saving Planet Earth celebrity expedition.
Lone runs the Borneo Orang-utan Survival Foundation. Built to house only 100
young orphaned orang-utans, it now provides a home for more than 600.
Orang-utans are one of our closest cousins and each orphan has a name. Nick names
the latest arrival, choosing Othello after his dad. Othello will need five years
of care and support before he is ready to be reintroduced to the wild.
Like many of the others in the centre, Othello was orphaned because of habitat
destruction. Swathes of rainforest are being cleared to make way for plantations
of palm oil which is used in countless everyday products – from toothpaste to
biscuits. Every minute, three football pitches of rainforest are destroyed. It
takes nine to 10 football pitches of forest to sustain just one orang-utan.
Nick helps rescue an orang-utan whose habitat is being chopped down around her.
However, the rescue ends tragically when the orang-utan dies.
Nick says: "This wouldn't be happening if we didn't have to rescue them. This
wouldn't be happening if the forests weren't being cut down. This animal would be
perfectly happy if it wasn't for the fact that we were driving them out of their
habitat and having to rescue them."
A donation of £10 to the BBC Wildlife Fund will help the Borneo Orang-utan
Survival Foundation feed one orang-utan for a whole week.
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