Saturday, 21 April 2012

A forestry scientist from the Netherlands, Smits emigrated to Indonesia 20 years ago to help the country grow trees. Today he runs the world’s largest orangutan rehabilitation center and is in the forefront of a campaign to save the species in the wild.
He faces great odds.
Orangutans once ranged throughout Southeast Asia. Today they can be found only on the Indonesian islands of Borneo and Sumatra. Scientists estimate that in the last 10 years their numbers have been reduced by up to 50 percent, to perhaps as few as 13,000 living in the wild.
“We need to take action now; in 20 years it will be too late,” says Smits. “We still have a chance to set aside some very large areas of undisturbed lowland rainforest, but I don’t think we’ll have the chance in another five years. It is now or never.”

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