This woman of Lithuanian heritage has grown to become one of the greatest scientists and primatologists of the 20th century. Biruté Mary Galdikas has spent more than 40 years living and studying the behaviour of orangutans inside the once pristine rainforest of Borneo, Indonesia.
I met Dr. Biruté Galdikas on a hot afternoon this past August when our rather ancient Trigana Air 737 landed in Pangklanbun, Borneo. We were 14 friends and family. It had been quite a trek to get here and, by the look of the airport terminal, we were most definitely not in Kansas anymore.
While it is great to see all these multinational palm oil producers making the pledge to protect forests for the sake of wild animals, how would one know at the retail level which products use palm oil from these producers?
As a matter of animal welfare/rights, cruelty/abuse should have the same meaning for a dog in China as the U.S. Identifying animals by their nationality stretches sovereignty -- people can be rabidly nationalistic but dogs cannot.
Serendipity does sometimes smile upon me, and it did a few months ago when I was on a tossing, rolling tin motorboat on the roiling South Pacific off the Austral island of Rurutu in French Polynesia, looking for whales.
When people hear the word "Borneo" they typically think two things: unexplored and expensive. While Borneo is definitely not a cheap destination, especially since the Malaysian ringgit is doing well against the dollar, there are ways to explore its rain forests and keep your wallet intact.
I never intended to be a myth-buster, but I'm not disappointed, however sorry Fox is. The trip is too interesting for that, the landscape, yes, too otherwordly, far too awesome in the word's original sense before its current one-stop usage.
The Malaysian state of Borneo, Sabah, is the last remaining hope for many unique Borneon species including orangutans, forest elephants and rhinos but its routinely carved up for palm oil plantations for the sake of "development." Think I'm exaggerating?