Dr. Jane Goodall, GoPro’s Bradford Schmidt, and Rainforest Trust are Among Those Honored at the 2015 Pongo Environmental Awards in Beverly Hills

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Icon of primatology, producer of cause-related action videos, Indonesian conservationist, forest saving organization, and ethical business honored with Pongo Environmental Awards at Orang Utan Republik Foundation's Annual Fundraiser.

Only if we understand, can we care. Only if we care, we will help. Only if we help, we shall be saved. -Jane Goodall

Actor and activist Ed Begley, Jr. will join supporters in Beverly Hills on Saturday, September 26th to honor a pioneering primatologist and UN peace ambassador, an Indonesian orangutan conservationist, the creative director of GoPro, a rain forest saving conservation organization, and an ecofriendly and ethical businesswoman at the Orang Utan Republik Foundation’s (OURF) annual fundraiser and 2015 Pongo Environmental Awards.

Among this year’s recipients of the 2015 Pongo Awards include, Dr. Jane Goodall for her lifelong chimpanzee passion studying, protecting and educating people about this great ape; Panut Hadisiswoyo for leadership in fearlessly conserving orangutans and rain forests in North Sumatra; Bradford Schmidt of GoPro for creating "Our Orangutan Brethren", as part of his series of unique and compelling cause-related video stories about endangered animals from the species' perspective; Paul Salaman of Rainforest Trust whose organization has secured the future of over eight million acres of rain forest around the world; and Alexandra Saunders whose company, Nuubia San Francisco, produces award-winning, palm oil-free chocolates that does not threaten orangutans or other wildlife. The theme for this year’s event is “Free to be Wild.” The theme represents the foundation's vision of a time when orangutans will be free to wander in the wild rain forests of Borneo and Sumatra as they did before humans became a threat to them.

Each year, the OURF recognizes the achievements of individuals and organizations for distinguished work to support and protect the sanctity of the inhabitants of our earth, and the right to existence for each individual species, as a birthright on our planet. The Pongo Awards are given to those who have made significant contributions to protect the welfare of all living species via advocacy, leadership, public service, ethical commerce, education and research. Last year OURF honored Showtime's “Years of Living Dangerously”, climate scientist Michael Mann, feature film “The Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”, the stage production of “Dr. Keeling’s Curve” and Ronna Phelps of Chandler Farm.

The Orang Utan Republik Foundation (http://www.orangutanrepublik.org) is dedicated to saving critically endangered wild orangutans and the thousands of other threatened species from extinction through education and outreach programs in Indonesia. OURF awards scholarships to promising Indonesian students in the fields of Forestry, Biology and Veterinary Science to become scientists and conservationists. Subsequently, these young educators go on to work on the front lines of the conflict, educating villagers on new environmentally conscious agricultural techniques to grow crops in sustainable ways, and planting and reconditioning the devastated forests that have been burned to the ground. OURF field teams also train villagers who have a high degree of conflict with orangutans and gibbons, so the animals are not brutally killed by the native populations.

OURF's Annual Fundraiser raises money to support the ongoing work of OURF’s education initiatives, such as the Orangutan Caring Scholarship program, the LP Jenkins Memorial Fellowship, and the Orangutan Caring Club’s education and outreach programs with schools, government agencies and the community at-large. OURF’s Mobile Education & Conservation Unit also works with farmers in villages in North Sumatra, Indonesia to reduce conflict with ape populations in adjacent forest habitat by enhancing agro-forestry techniques that improve productivity on existing farm and community forestland, including creation of recycling/waste management/composting projects; soil quality enhancement, tree planting, ecotourism, home-stay, and developing appropriate permaculture methods.

According to Dr. Gary Shapiro, President of the OURF, “To save orangutans, one of our closes primate relatives, we must help to educate and save the humans who live in proximity to the wild populations, reducing conflict and building an appreciation of the species. We need to give the local people sustainable, money-making alternatives to destructive agricultural practices.”

Once found widespread throughout the forests of Asia, orangutans are now found only on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo. There are two genetically distinct species: the Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii) and the Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus). “While we share 97% of our DNA with orangutans, both species are highly endangered due to habitat loss and poaching.” Shapiro was a pioneer in teaching orangutans symbolic communication and was the first to teach sign language to free-ranging, ex-captive orangutans in the forests of Indonesian Borneo in the 1970s. He later studied the black water rivers of Borneo and went on to help conserve orangutans through various nonprofit groups he co-founded.

The Pongo Environmental Awards are produced annually by the Orang Utan Republik Foundation. For further information about the fundraiser and to participate in OURF's mission, please visit http://www.orangutanrepublik.org.

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Gary Shapiro
Orang Utan Republik Foundation
since: 01/2011
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