BC woman wants to save orangutans from extinction – Surrey Now-Leader
After witnessing the devastation suffered by orangutans, South Langley resident Nikko Konyk had to act.
“I couldn’t go home without doing anything,” Konyk commented.
Konyk, who has always had a fascination with primates, made his decision after two trips to Borneo and Sumatra, where orangutans are losing their habitat due to deforestation from logging, wildfires and clearing of wood for oil palm plantations, as well as human settlements.
Their numbers are estimated to have fallen from 230,000 in the two regions to less than half – 104,700 in Borneo and 7,500 in Sumatra.
They are considered a critically endangered species.
“It’s quite disastrous,” is how Konyk described the situation.
“I would say if it’s not turned around, the orangutan will be extinct,” Konyk told the Langley Advance Times.
It was during his second visit that Koynk met Leif Cocks, a primatologist with more than 30 years of experience working with orangutans.
Cocks is the founder of the Orangutan Projectwhich is part of Wildlife Conservation International (WCI), a registered charity whose stated goal is to ensure that endangered species of wild orangutans are protected and live in safe populations for generations to come.
An online summary reports that the project has raised more than $22 million since its inception for orangutan conservation, “encompassing legal protection of rainforests; securing, restoring and patrolling tropical forests; rescue, rehabilitate and release ex-captive orangutans; and education and empowerment of local communities and indigenous peoples.
Shortly after returning from his travels, in June 2015, Konyk launched the Canadian Chapter of the Orangutan Project, also a registered charity.
In its latest filing with Revenue Canada, the WCI Canada Foundation said it “aims to establish and manage a mobile Sumatran Orangutan Protection Team to investigate, document and expose the destruction of orangutan habitat. -utans and undertake the rescue of illegally detained orangutans”.
On Sunday, July 17, Cocks will be in Langley to give a talk titled “A Future We Can Believe In” to the United Churches of Langley at 21562 Old Yale Rd. at 3 p.m.
Orangutans are great apes, as opposed to apes, and are closely related to humans, having 97% DNA in common.
Cocks, known in some circles as the “whisperer of orangutans” for teaching some to communicate with sign language, described them as “the second-smartest animal after humans…self-aware, with feelings and compassion”.
To book a ticket, visit www.orangutans.ca/a-future-we-can-believe-in-langley.
Admission is $20.
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