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 Justine's Journal

CackleTV Productions


Orangutans - make a difference
Monday, February 13, 2006

I wanted to write a non-kayaking blog about one of the other aspects of my life. I've recently got back from producing a TV programme about orangutans in Borneo. I know it sounds glamorous and I'm not complaining but the experience made me feel strongly that I shouldn’t just shut my eyes to the destruction and greed that is going on all around us in the world. Our newspapers are full of horror stories of rainforest about to disappear, animals about to go extinct and people made homeless by money-driven developers and it’s easy to turn the page quickly and just go paddling.

I don’t claim that I’m about to drastically change my lifestyle but I was inspired to make a modest donation to some people in Borneo who are really making a difference and I’d encourage you to do the same.

The orang utan is the only great ape which lives in Asia – there used to be hundreds of thousands of them but as their forest home continues to be logged, they are only about 50,000 of them left. 5,000 of those are disappearing every year.

Most of the rainforest that remains in Indonesia is being chopped down to make palm oil plantations. This is a very profitable industry for the country, but the crazy thing is that there is no need to chop down primary forest to make new plantations. We saw thousands of acres of degraded land in Borneo which could easily be used for palm oil plantations. The sad truth is that developers would rather chop down primary rainforest so they can make a profit from selling the timber first. The local government is all too often bribed to allow the deforestation to go ahead.

We were filming at the Nyaru-Menteng orangutan rescue and rehabilitation centre run by BOS - The Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation. They have their hands full looking after over 400 orangutans, with the eventual aim of releasing all of them back into the wild where possible. All the oragutans have a sad story – most have seen their mothers murdered before their eyes.

BOS are really making a difference– their work involves lobbying the government to protect the remaining forest, rescuing orangutans who have been made homeless by deforestation and teaching baby orangutans the skills they need to live in the wild. At the moment they have nowhere to release their rehabilitated orangutans. They are working hard to pressure the government to protect an area of forest which would be perfect, but until this happens their orang utans will have to stay in cages.

A small donation can make a big difference to BOS. For example, our presenter, Iolo Williams, arranged for some binoculars to be donated to BOS. The binoculars were recently used to spot a missing orangutan. She was found severely dehydrated high in a tree and might have died if she hadn’t been found.

If you want to read more about the orangutan and the work of BOS then go to

To donate, go directly to this page.

The programme that we made will be shown on S4C, Channel 4, in Wales, this Autumn. People throughout the UK can watch this on Digital TV. I'll post details nearer to the time.


Blogger John G. said...

Justine, thank you for bringing this extremely important issue to our attention. I for one will act on this. I am sickened by this senseless short term greed and profiteering. For those who would engage in these criminal acts of forest destruction are not only destroying habitats, cultures, communities, possibilities for new medicines--and so on, they are actually destroying themselves. Why oh why has not the worlds governments done something to stop this decades ago. It is pure cowardice. We humans, so intelligent, yet so obviously ignorant. That by itself is beyond embarrassing, its insulting. When there isnt enough forest or soil, coral or ice remaining to sustain life, and the beautiful and majestic species of animals and plants we are imeasureably fortunate to share this planet with, who will we blame and how will we forgive ourselves. We ALL must get involved, NOW.

Justine, I hope one day I have the good fortune of meeting you. I thoroughly admire your accomplishments in film making, and your passion and enthusiasm for the Earth and whats on it. You have a paddling friend in Chicago

1:44 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

10/10/06 Hi Justine, saw the programme last night, which moved me beyond words. It has remained on my mind all day and will remain for some time to come.

Can i ask if you could possibly post a list of useful items for this organisation and how we could go about getting the items to them?

Like you I'd love to get involved but don't know where to start.
Well done and keep active and involved, Louise from South Wales

8:29 pm  
Blogger Justine Curgenven said...

hi Louise,
I'm glad you were moved by the programme. It was sad to see the situation in Borneo, but it was really warming to see Lone and the others at BOS working really hard for the orangutans. I did get a wish list from Michelle, the UK rep of BOS, sometime ago but I can't find the email right now. It's probably best to contact Michelle directly on bosf_uk AT ( Obviously replate AT with @ ). thanks and all the best,

9:51 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Justine,

I'm a fervent supporter of Save the orangutan, FOE and WWF. I've found this site that shows another side of the story though. Maybe we should check it out?

All the best

2:59 am  

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