Though we are called Orangutan Project, as a group we are motivated to help conservation efforts for and improve the welfare of any animal species that it may be within our capabilities to do so. We strongly feel that all conservation and welfare issues are intricately linked, and that for there to be any hope for endangered wildlife, human attitudes towards all animal species need to change – not just our attitudes towards those charismatic mega-fauna that reside in faraway countries. It is perhaps an error when British people donate to help save orangutan on Borneo, while ignoring the crisis facing British hedgehogs or badgers. Or perhaps when we sign petitions calling for an end to dog meat trade overseas, but stay silent on the appalling conditions in factory farms in our own countries. Of course, many of you are activists for a wide range of issues relating to animals and the environment, and this is what continues to give us hope in our work on Borneo. And the scope of our work continues to expand!
In October, we embarked on our first Trap-Neuter-Release (TNR) project, focused on the stray dogs of Kuching. Since the employment of our vet, Dr Silje, this year, Orangutan Project has been offering a neutering service to anybody in the local villages who has cats or dogs that would like to take us up on the offer. This has slowly been gaining momentum over the year, and we currently have around 50 animals on our waiting list, which is great. It is extremely difficult to continue to encounter sad, emaciated, mange-ridden dogs so close to our base of work, and we have long been determined to tackle this issue. We are pleased to have been able to make a start – it is a small start, but a start nonetheless!
Expanding this to try to have an impact on the number of stray dogs in Kuching is a fairly large task, but it is something we are determined to do over the coming years. Our first efforts at a TNR project went pretty well – after an intense 3 days huddled over dog innards with just one vet and a small team of volunteers, 27 of the strays of Kuching are now unable to multiply! This was quite the effort in collaboration too; Orangutan Project were partnered by SOS – Save Our Strays – of Kuching, who did an excellent job in rounding up the animals. We enjoyed the use of donated supplies from both OVaid (Orangutan Veterinary Aid) and IDEXX via Romayne Davies, who participated on our Orangutan and Tribes tour earlier this year and brought a huge donation and heaps of supplies over with her. Many local veterinary clinics and pharmacy suppliers also sponsored this effort, so huge thanks goes out to everyone. We look forward to expanding projects like this in 2016.
In addition to this, we also support Kuching’s SSPCA to try to help this shelter with the same problems faced by animal shelters all over the world – too many animals, less than adequate conditions and a constant influx of animals that far exceeds the ability to manage the existing population. Through Monkeebar’s profit, we were able to make a donation to this shelter. Our volunteers in Monkeebar also spend a couple of days each week helping out with the day-to-day tasks for the many cats and dogs resident here. The house that we rent in Kuching for our Monkeebar volunteers is also now a foster home for puppies from the SSPCA, so we are able to care for some of the more vulnerable puppies, help them learn to socialize and therefore hopefully make them easier to offer out for permanent adoption.
It surely goes without saying that orangutan are awesome, and more than worthy of all the mammoth efforts we go to in order to have some hope of conserving the species and improving the lives of the individuals that we get to know at the rescue centres. However, we are hugely motivated to be able to advance projects like the TNR program to help stray dogs, and we are pleased to have a team of staff and volunteers that are passionate about helping any and all animals that we can.
If you are interested in joining us as a volunteer, we have a number of options available – both paid-for projects and purely voluntary roles. Please contact us for more information if you like the thought of giving something back while you holiday!