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Orangutan Caring Week Nov. 8-14, 2020
Theme for 2020: "Protecting Biodiversity for a Healthy Planet"
A very appropriate theme has been chosen for Orangutan Caring Week this year – "Protecting Biodiversity for a Healthy Planet" - as the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened our understanding of how our health and that of the planet are linked to maintaining and protecting biodiversity in all forms.
The combined impacts of habitat loss, habitat degradation, illegal hunting, and an illegal pet trade, have pushed the orangutan toward an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild and now they face a new possible threat. Although the COVID-19 virus has not yet been observed in great apes in the wild, there is abundant scientific evidence showing that our closest living relatives are susceptible to diseases transmitted by humans. If the virus were to infect even one wild ape, experts fear it could spread unchecked and wipe out an entire population.
We are already facing a climate crisis and a mass extinction threatening the very existence of thousands of animals and plant species, as well as threatening human populations, and the urgency of action has never been more important. These intelligent, sentient beings have lived in perfect harmony with nature for millions of years yet due to human activity their populations have declined by more than half over the past 60 years, and their habitat has been reduced by at least 55% over just the past 20 years.
To contain this virus and to stop the next pandemic, we need to start protecting wildlife habitats. Some of the deadliest new diseases, including COVID-19, Ebola, SARS, and HIV, have all arisen when man has crossed the natural barriers between human and animal populations. Protecting nature is our most effective line of defense against future pandemics.
By saving orangutans, we save ourselves and our life sustaining environment. If we can protect and save this closest of evolutionary cousins and their rainforest homes, it would mean we are making the necessary changes to possibly protect all life on earth.
Orangutan Caring Week is a perfect opportunity to spread awareness about the plight of orangutans and the urgent dangers facing their rainforest homes with the goal of motivating people to care – and to care enough to be moved to action.
Holly Draluck, Event Coordinator