Langley residents will soon get a rare opportunity to help bring an endangered species of great ape back from the brink.
The Orangutan Project will launch its official Canadian chapter in Langley at a fundraising evening at the Newlands Golf and Country Club on Saturday, Oct. 3, from 7 to 11 p.m.
The night will be hosted by Orangutan Project founder and world leading conservationists, Leif Cocks, who is coming all the way from the jungles of Sumatra.
“The orangutan is the second most intelligent animal next to humans,” said Cocks, who has spent more than 20 years working with and caring for orangutans. He spoke to The Times from Los Angeles this week.
“They are self-aware, with feelings and compassion. I have taught them sign language and had conversations with them,” he said.
Cocks said this is the moment when change can occur and humans can save the sentient beings from extinction.
“This is the time in history where we have the opportunity to turn the tides. But to do nothing, they just won’t make it.”
There are actually two different colonies of orangutan with less than two hundred individuals in each. Their population isn’t viable if more of their home is lost to deforestation, he said.
The Langley event includes dinner, silent auction, stuffed orangutan toys, prizes and dancing.
The Orangutan Project is described as the world’s foremost not-for-profit organization, supporting orangutan conservation, rain forest protection, local community partnerships and the rehabilitation and reintroduction of displaced orangutans to the wild, in order to save the two orangutan species from extinction.
After seeing first-hand the horrors of deforestation and encroaching palm oil plantations, several Canadians, including Langley’s Nikko Konyk, decided enough was enough, and Canadians needed a way to help wild orangutans.
Since 1985, Sumatra has lost at least half its forest cover. Some of the world’s most threatened species, including tigers and orangutans are being squeezed out of the forests in a sea of palm oil and pulp and paper plantations.
The lofty goal of TOP is to manage 40,000 hectares of rain forest for tigers, elephants and orangutans to call home. As well, two indigenous tribes live in the Sumatran rain forests.
“Forests have been taken away from the indigenous people and destroyed to profit a few greedy billionaires,” said Cocks.
Saving habitat is the most cost effective way to save orangutans. The cost is $10.11 per hectare.
Tickets to the event are $75 and are available online or at Stampede Tack in Cloverdale.
Visit orangutans.ca to learn more.