Foremost Orangutan Expert to Speak

Michele Bowles

The world’s foremost authority figure for orangutans, Birute Galdikas will be visiting Glendale Community College on May 6. Galdikas, a scientist-onservationist, holds a doctorate in primatology will be giving a lecture regarding the dangers that are affecting the orangutans and rainforests in Borneo in the GCC auditorium.

Galdikas has devoted four decades of her life to studying these animals in their natural habitat of Indonesian Borneo. She is a co-founder of Orangutan Foundation International [OFI].

The foundation’s goal is to support the conservation, protection and understanding the orangutans and their rain forest habitat. The organization is actively educating the public, governments and schools about orangutans and tropical rain forests.

Victoria Buresch of the anthropology department, along with Eric Johnston and Mike Dulay in Social Sciences, and Ronald Harland, dean of instructional services, organized the event. “Dr. Ron Harlan was instrumental in getting this event on campus,” Buresch said. “He has worked closely with the foundation and independent contacts to raise funds for the event.”

Now, the safety of the orangutans is vital. These animals are going extinct because the rainforest, their natural habitat, is being ruined. When their forests are damaged, burned, or cut, orangutans have no choice but to be pushed out of the only environment that they know. When orangutans are driven out of their homes they become slow, helpless and extremely vulnerable to people, disease and starvation.

Galdikas and OFI are doing everything in their power to stop this from happening. Their first priority is to protect the forests. It is essential in order for them to survive. OFI works hard to prevent activities such as logging, clear-cutting and poaching which are constant threats to orangutan’s survival.

She intends to inform the public of the reality of the situation. The dangers affecting these animals are increasing every year. The Borneo forest is constantly being cut, burned down and is expected to be depleted in a few years if nothing is done to stop it. She will be informing people of what they can do to help the orangutans and the forests.

“For students, faculty and the community, the opportunity to hear Dr. Galdikas discuss her reserach and her efforts to save orangutans from extinction will raise much needed awareness about the plight of these amazing primates,” said Buresch.

Galdikas established Camp Leakey in Tanjung Putting Reserve in Central Borneo. The camp holds about 350 orphan orangutans, most of them babies. The camp helps them learn the habits of the forest.

Galdikas is featured in “Born To be Wild” a 3D IMAX documentary released on April 8.
The doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and the lecture will start at 7:30. There is no entrance fee for the lecture and no advance reservations are needed. Seating is limited to 350 people and is on a first come first serve basis. Following the lecture, Galdikas will hold a book signing.

The Glendale College Foundation sponsored the event and made the appearance of Galdikas possible, along with donations from Glendale Sunrise Rotary Club, Doris and Jack Quinn.