Next stop: Orangutans

Apr 11, 2024

Hi everyone,

These past few months have been a whirlwind of exploration and discovery. From the the foothills of the Andean mountains in Ecuador to the wild beauty of Patagonia, and the bustling streets of LA, each stop has been special and filled with its own unique charm.

People often wonder if I ever feel the need to recharge and take a break. Those who know me understand that I thrive on the rhythm of exploration. Each new experience energizes me and fuels my spirit, especially when I can share it with others.

Tomorrow marks the start of another journey as I travel halfway around the world for my Sumatran orangutan photo tour. Spending time with these amazing great apes is always a highlight, and I can’t wait to show my guests the wonders of the rainforest and the beauty of orangutans in their natural habitat.

 
It will be my 11th trip to Sumatra and there have been so many special moments over the years. While I’ve been to Borneo three times to see orangutans, it is the allure of Sumatra that captivates me the most. There’s an unparalleled thrill in traversing its jungles on foot, immersing myself in one of the world’s most biodiverse ecosystems.

As I type this out, vivid images flood my mind — the winding trails through the dense forest, the towering trees of the jungle reaching towards the sky, the symphony of cicadas harmonizing us, and sheer abundance of wildlife weaving through the forest.

In nature’s embrace, I find myself enveloped in a profound sense of connection — to the earth beneath my feet, to every living creature that calls it home, and to the essence of my own aspirations and desires. It’s a communion that renews my spirit with each step I take in the wilderness.

One of the most rewarding aspects of my repeated visits to Sumatra is the opportunity to witness the passage of time through the lives of the orangutans. Returning year after year, I’ve formed a bond with these gentle giants, observing as they mature and adapt to the challenges of existence in an increasingly imperiled ecosystem due to human activity and risks from development.
 

 
On this journey, I am privileged to collaborate with Nature for Change, a conservation initiative spearheaded by Darma, a dear friend and esteemed orangutan guide turned conservationist. His dedication to preserving Sumatra’s biodiversity is truly commendable. Through Nature for Change, Darma focuses on engaging with communities residing in the buffer zone surrounding the national park, recognizing their crucial role in safeguarding the region’s rich ecological heritage.

Darma’s visionary approach encompasses a diverse array of projects aimed at empowering these local communities. From sustainable livelihood initiatives to educational programs promoting environmental stewardship, his efforts extend far beyond traditional conservation methods. A testament to his commitment, Darma’s organization recently achieved a significant milestone by successfully planting 100,000 trees, revitalizing vital habitats and bolstering the ecosystem’s resilience.

Reflecting on our conversations, Darma once imparted to me a profound nugget of wisdom: “Not everyone can be Superman, but everyone can do super things.” These words resonate deeply within me, serving as a guiding principle for both my personal and professional endeavors. They encapsulate the essence of Darma’s ethos and encapsulate the transformative power of collective action in safeguarding our planet’s precious natural heritage.

 
As I embark on this journey, I carry with me not only a sense of adventure but also a profound sense of responsibility. Inspired by the resilience of Sumatra’s wildlife and the dedication of those who strive to protect it, I am reminded of the power of individual actions to effect meaningful change. Small acts can make a difference in shaping our planet’s future.

Consider, for instance, the vast swathes of Sumatra’s once-thriving rainforests now supplanted by endless expanses of palm oil plantations. These monocultures, which stretch as far as the eye can see, stand as stark symbols of the environmental toll exacted by the relentless expansion of palm oil consumption. Where once teeming ecosystems thrived in harmony, now stands a uniform sea of palm trees, devoid of the rich biodiversity that once defined these lands.

Palm oil is found in countless consumer products, such as packaged snacks, cosmetics, detergents, and even biofuels. Its versatility and low cost have made it a staple ingredient in industries worldwide, fueling the demand for its cultivation on an unprecedented scale. By conscientiously reducing or eliminating our consumption of non-sustainable certified palm oil-infused goods (click here to read more), we can collectively advocate for the preservation of vital habitats and the protection of imperiled species such as orangutans.

Little acts can make a difference.

We can’t all be superman, but we can all do super things.

More soon from the land of the orangutans…