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Pocketmags Digital Magazines

Somewhere for the kings to swing

Kim Willis discovers the incredible school teaching orphaned orangutans how to climb trees, after life as they knew it was destroyed by the palm oil trade
Image: Nanang Sujana for Four Paws

The orangutan is a gentle ape, and the relationship between mother and baby is the most intense and long of any non-human mammal. There is a lot for the young orangutan to learn from their mothers — they carry their offspring for five years and the pair are constant companions, sleeping in treetop nests together every night for as long as eight years. Their diet is made up of over 300 kinds of fruit and the mother teaches her babies what to eat, where to find food and what’s in season, as well as survival skills and the art of swinging through the trees — at least, that’s how it should be.

Thanks to the colossal and horrifying consequences of the palm oil, tropical wood and coal industries, the jungle VIP has been persecuted for decades. There are two species of orangutan — Bornean and Sumatran and these two South East Asian islands are home to the only orangutans in the world, beside those in zoos and other unnatural environments. Bornean orangutans are an endangered species, with just 41,000 let, and Sumatran orangutans are critically endangered, with an estimated 7,500 let in the wild. In Borneo, the orangutan population has declined by more than 50 per cent over the past 60 years. In the last two decades their habitat has been reduced by at least 55 per cent, due to ruthless deforestation. According to animal welfare charity Four Paws, between two and three thousand orangutans die each year. Most are killed intentionally, either for their meat or because they are seen as thieves of the crop in palm oil plantations. When mothers are hunted and killed, their defenceless orphans are illegally sold as pets or to the cruel wildlife tourism trade, which we covered in our Tiger Selfies and Elephant Rides expose in the August 2018 issue.

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About Vegan Life

Welcome to the March issue. It’s my favourite time of year, as the evenings get lighter and the first signs of spring emerge. It’s the perfect time of year to dust off the winter cobwebs and refocus on our goals. This year has already seen a lot of change for the vegan movement — Veganuary was a huge success, with 250,000 sign-ups, and hopefully a large proportion of those who took part will continue their vegan journeys. We have seen an unprecedented amount of vegan food launches, too — in supermarkets and restaurants — and it feels like change is really happening. But with all change there is controversy — we take a look into the issues and backlash surrounding some of these new launches. Mother’s Day is on the 31st of March, and what better way to celebrate the women who raised us than by treating them to a vegan high tea? We’ve rounded up the best and the recipes you need if you want to make your own. It’s important to remember those who don’t get to spend the day with loved ones, and this includes the millions of dairy cows cruelly separated from their parents. We take some time to reflect. We also had the pleasure of talking to the inspirational James Aspey this month. The activist and campaigner has some great advice for advocating. Enjoy the issue, Phillipa Smith