Today is Endangered Species Day- a day to honor the many animals and plants losing their homes and lives to human development.
And this global pandemic has given us more of an idea of what it’s like to be an endangered species- to have to fight for our health and our homes while under attack. Like many endangered species, we don’t know when this force will strike our particular communities and make it difficult or impossible to live there.
So maybe this year we have more empathy for endangered species, now that we understand what kind of an impact such a crisis has on our society. And maybe we can apply that empathy to help endangered species.
Today, try to make a little step. Start thinking about an endangered animal that matters to you- maybe an animal that you’ve done something for in the past, maybe an animal that you just feel like you should help. Figure out something that you can do to help these animals- a social media post, a decision on your shopping list, or some small change to your lifestyle that makes an impact on the species you’re trying to help out.
Mothers Day is coming up this Sunday, and many of us will be honoring our mothers with cards and gifts. But some of us don’t have mothers to celebrate- including the hundreds of orphaned orangutans who live in care centers across Indonesia.
These orangutans often lose their mothers at a young age to hunters or poachers. The babies are then sold illegally as pets, where they are kept in harsh conditions without proper nourishment. Some of the babies are rescued by organizations like Orangutan Foundation International or Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation and taught how to survive in the wild so they can eventually be released.
This Mothers Day, we wish to honor orangutan mothers in the annual Missing Orangutan Mothers (M.O.M.) event hosted by Orangutan Outreach. In addition to thanking your own mothers this Sunday, please take a few minutes to thank orangutan mothers as well- whether it’s a social media post, a conversation with a friend, or a second thought about your shopping list.
Orangutan mothers are dedicated parents, raising their children for eight to ten years. Without the support networks that human parents have, orangutan mothers parent by themselves, teaching their children everything about how to survive in the wild. Please take a few minutes on Sunday to honor them and their memory. Now that you’re quarantined at home, you have the time to dedicate a few minutes to conservation.
If you wish to donate to the Missing Orangutan Mothers campaign to benefit the rehabilitation program at Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation, you can do so here.
Celebrating Earth Day during this period of social isolation is difficult- since so many events have been canceled, activists have mainly resorted to moving it all online. Unfortunately, some of the Orangutan Gang’s upcoming events have been canceled as well- the “Voices of the Earth” event as well as our annual appearance at the Davidson Young Scholar summit will not be taking place this year. However, in the spirit of moving everything online, we are planning another event with Athena’s Academy; stay posted and check our Upcoming Events page for details.
And yet, in some ways, being at home all day gives us an advantage- we have more time to think. Each choice that we make has an impact- a choice in the grocery store just as much as a choice at home. Having that much more time lets us really evaluate our decisions about just how much we can do for the environment.
Shopping is a good example. When you go to a grocery store to buy food, you’re fairly time-limited; you take no longer than a few seconds to choose which brands to buy. Online shopping, on the other hand, allows you to take much more time making decisions- when you remember that you need something, you can add it to your cart right away, and you can keep items in your cart for as long as you want before making your order. You have the time to stop and research what you’re planning to buy; you can read through the ingredients and compare them to lists of palm oil aliases, or you could look for the product type and find a brand that’s palm oil free. For example, if you’re planning to buy a box of Oreos or a jar of Nutella, you could stop for a minute to see if you can find an alternative that’s palm oil free.
Staying at home also allows you more time to take action through other avenues, like contacting companies or spreading the word. If you find yourself bored today, we’re encouraging you to use our company contact form letter to write to a company that’s acting irresponsibly. You can also take a few minutes to post on social media about the palm oil issue, so that you can spread awareness to your friends. In these ways, you can make a difference without leaving your couch!
One of the things we’ve learned from this period of social distancing is just how much we’re able to accomplish without leaving our homes. Even if you feel powerless while you spend your day inside, there are still things that you can do to make the world a better place. If you have a few free minutes today, try spending it on something to encourage conservation- whether it’s a post on social media, a letter to an irresponsible company, or a little bit of research on some of your favorite products. But it all starts with your choice of how to spend that time.
Over the past several weeks, you’ve probably been hearing and reading a lot about proper handwashing methods. But who better to learn it from than an orangutan?
On Tuesday, this video was published on the Orangutan Jungle School Facebook page. In the video, Cinta (who you may recognize from the Orangutan Jungle School TV series) is washing her hands with water, splashing it across her hands before rubbing them together- and then applauding herself for her hygiene!
We can learn a lot from what Cinta has shown us- that orangutans may be impacted too. Scientific experts advise that gorillas are possibly susceptible to coronavirus-related complications, and orangutans may be as well. And, with human operations are shutting down across the globe, many nonprofits focused on saving orangutans, including the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation, are closing offices and asking employees to work from home.
It might be hard to stay focused on conservation while you’re worried about the coronavirus crisis, but we encourage you to stay motivated. Use your time at home to learn more about orangutans or find palm oil free products you might like. Even if you’re staying in the house, working from home, you can still help save the rainforest!