A few days ago we returned from Kalimantan, the Indonesian portion of the Island of Borneo. There we, as part of a small group that included 4 of our good friends, visited Dr. Birute Galdikas and some of the 320 Orangutan orphans that OFI is currently nurturing and protects. After first arriving in Jakarta - where JK met with Lex Hovani of the Nature Conservancy - to learn about logging and other environmental issues in Indonesia, we flew to Pangkalanbun and continued by boat, several hours up river, into the Rain Forest, finally arriving at OFI s Camp Leakey. After showing us around the camp, Dr. Birute brought our group to a feeding platform where we watched some of her charges receive a large variety of local fruits. Although we kept a proper distance, the Orangutans decide if they want to approach and meet you, it was thrilling to be so close to these gentle primates. To observe them while they interacted, swung through trees and sometimes came close to get a better look at us, well it was magical. In the afternoon we had tea with Dr. Birute - on the same Porch where in the film BORN TO BE WILD she shared her spaghetti with the female Orangutan names Siswi - when lo and behold, Siswi appeared, joined Dr. Birute and our group and enjoyed some Rambutan fruit that was brought for her. She is quite the local star and very comfortable around humans. The next few days were filled with many extraordinary experiences as we visited several other rain forest camps and release locations.
Just a couple of quick updates. A 12 minute video of our Nov 2012 visit to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya, featuring the Baby Orphan Elephants and their dedicated Keepers. has been posted on our YouTube Channel. Secondly, we are leaving in a few days for Indonesia to visit Dr. Birute Galdikas and the orphaned Baby Orangutans of the Orangutan Foundation International (OFI) on the Island of Borneo. Deforestation there continues at an alarming rate and is usually followed by more Palm Oil Plantations being created on the denuded land. As a result more and more Orangutans are loosing their Habitat or are being killed. OFI is trying to raise enough funds, go to: www.orangutan.org to see how you can help, to purchase a major tract of unspoiled Habitat so that the rescued Orangutans will have a suitable home once they are mature enough to be reintroduced into the wild. We'll post a report of our experiences in Borneo soon after our return. All for now: JK & JMK
Almost a year since the last update: Yes, of course that's way too long, but rather than waste space listing all the reasons for the delay, we'll get on with it. In November we flew to Cambodia to look in on our School project, then on to Kenya to visit the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust elephant orphans at the Trust's Nairobi Nursery and Tsavo East Ithumba facilities. Spending time with the little pachyderms in the Bush and also feeding them their milk bottles etc. was of course thrilling and will stay etched into our memories forever. But we were also delighted to spend a little time with Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick, her daughter Angela and Angela's husband Robert Carr-Hartley, while in Nairobi and with Richard Moller our congenial host in Tsavo East. We learned much from Richard particularly concerning the endless battle to combat poaching, snaring and other problems Tsavo faces. These extraordinary people and the over 40 care givers, from various tribes, who look after the orphans with such dedication and love, we hold in the highest esteem and we'll continue to support their work as much as we are able. From last December through March we were occupied with our move back to California. Now that this seemingly endless time consuming inconvenience is behind us, we intend to spend more time on the foundation's projects. As mentioned in the previous posting, last year we met Dr. Birute Galdikas of Orangutan Foundation International and now that Dr. Birute is in California we hope to reconnect and discuss a possible trip to Borneo to visit her charges, the now over 300 baby Orangutans. We recently received photos of a newly rescued little orphan, a male, whom Dr. Birute named "Steppenwolf". He was featured as an orphan of the month on OFI's site Perhaps we'll get to meet this little fellow, well we'll see. By now the IMAX 3D "Born To Be Wild" film about Dr. Birute's and Dr. Dame Daphne's lifelong efforts, has received a number of awards and is the most successful non-commercial IMAX release to date. In fact there may be a follow up film in the works. The film is now available on DVD and features many extra video clips and special footage. We encourage everyone and particularly those with young children and/or grand children to get a copy and enjoy this amazing film as well as learn about the dangers facing these orphans. If you are touched "as we suspect you will be" by the film, please consider sponsoring a baby orangutan at: www.orangutan.org or baby elephant at: www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org It doesn't cost very much and also makes a very special gift for a child. JK & JMK
Dr. Birute Galdikas and Orangutan Foundation International (OFI): In our last post we mentioned that we were looking forward to meeting Dr. Birute Galdikas of OFI. We are glad to report that last Saturday, while in San Diego for an OFI benefit performance by John Kay & Steppenwolf, we had the great pleasure of doing so. We met and chatted with Dr. Birute as well as Drew Fellman, producer of the film 'Born To Be Wild', during the band's sound check. Before the show that evening, after screening the trailer of 'Born To Be Wild', featuring Dr. Birute's work in Borneo as well as Dame Daphne Sheldrick's work with the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya, I introduced Dr. Birute to the audience. The crowd was respectful and attentive and was clearly interested in what she had to say and relate. In addition to the benefit show's ticket sales, funds were raised for OFI through a profitable silent auction. All in all, a successful and rewarding evening. The next day 'Mothers Day' a special OFI benefit screening of the Born To Be Wild IMAX film was held at the San Diego Science Center. During the film not a single sound was heard from the audience, a testament to the spellbinding effect of this motion picture. Drew Fellman and all who had a hand in bringing this film to life can justly be proud of having created an important document that will reach the core of anyone with a beating heart. We have seen the film 3 times and would gladly see it again. After the screening Dr. Birute and I took questions from the audience. It was heartening that some of the most concerned questions came from many young people, particularly 'What can one do to help preserve and protect the Orangutans'. Dr. Birute ask, in fact begged them to avoid products containing Palm Oil, because most of the often illegally cleared land 'it is estimated that 78% of logging in Indonesia is done illegally' is usually converted into yet another Palm Oil Plantation. These stretch as far as the eye can see for thousands of acres and of course enormously reduce the remaining habitat for Orangutans and all other forms of life, including indigenous people that live there. One of OFI's goals is to raise funds to purchase and protect land that has not been logged and is prime habitat for Orangutans. There is obviously no point in nurturing and raising the over 300 Orangutan orphans currently in OFI's care, if no viable habitat remains into which these orphans can be released.. Therefore, while our Foundation will certainly continue to support OFI, we encourage you to visit www.orangutan.org to learn about OFI's important work and lend a hand. There are many of our not too distant cousins at OFI, waiting for someone like you to sponsor them. JK & JMK
Born To Be Wild, indeed. Weeks ago we were informed that Warner Brothers was shooting an IMAX film in 3D titled "Born To Be Wild" about 2 truly outstanding people and their life long work, namely Dame Daphne Sheldrick of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya and Dr. Birute Galdikas of the Orangutan Foundation International in Borneo, Indonesia. Dame Daphne and her helpers have rescued, raised and reintroduced back in into the wild over 100 orphaned baby elephants, while Dr. Birute and her staff have done the same with untold orphaned baby Orangutans. Our foundation has been supporting both of these projects, so we were delighted to learn that this film will now bring the remarkable work of these two women to the attention of the greater public. You can view a trailer of the film, which is narrated by Morgan Freeman and additional clips of the making of the film etc. at: borntobewild.imax.com 48 hours after being notified about the production of the film, we were contacted by Science North: sciencenorth.ca who's David Lickley it turned out, is the director of the BTBW film, but Science North's inquiry concerned a major fund raising event and not the film. After learning about the conservation related work done by and at Science North - which brings thousands of people and particularly children through its doors every year - Jutta and I agreed to participate in the planned event. Making people aware of the need to protect our global natural treasures is paramount, if we hope to preserve what is left and Science North does an admirable job of doing just that. So last Saturday, following a gala dinner, I spoke about related matters on behalf of our foundation, while Jutta's wildlife and foundation project images were projected to illustrate my points. Afterwards I joined four fine local musicians who had donated their time and talent to learn several Steppenwolf songs which we performed together for a crowd of post dinner guests and those who came to only attend the fund raising party. I believe a fine time was had by all, including Jutta and myself, but most importantly much needed funds were raised to enable Science North to continue its crucial work. In May we'll meet Dr. Birute Galdikas and learn more about her work with the over 300 orphaned baby Orangutans that she and OFI are currently nurturing at Camp Leakey in Borneo. We will then post our report. JK & JMK
Official Movie Site: borntobewild.imax.com