Entries in the ‘Charities’

Sumatra-On The Frontline

Filed in Charities, Projects on Mar.11, 2015

Sumatra, the remote, Indonesian island where I was shadowing the rescue team –HOCRU from the Orangutan Information Centre- OIC.  during the two weeks there. The last time I worked with these guys was just before the Spotlight Sumatra exhibition in London, which was an amazing success.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

As soon as I arrived in Medan the capital of Sumatra I was picked up by Panut and we headed over to the HQ of OIC. We went through a very loose plan for my trip because nothing is promised or can be planned with regard to the rescues of Sumatran Orangutans that find themselves cut off, surrounded on all sides with conflict palm oil. This rescue team was set up by Panut as a direct response to these conditions these crucially endangered orangutans face on Sumatra each and everyday.

With the preparation, travelling and release there is alot of time involved with each rescue so during the two weeks I rarely had any free time. My aim by shadowing these guys is to show the world what they do and how etc. This is the only rescue team on the island of Sumatra, something when I say it still surprises me because the scale of the problems in Sumatra with Sumatran Orangutans are massive.

After spending the night travelling we reached the house in which we were to spend the night ready for the following morning when we were to meet with the forest police force and then go and rescue this orangutan. OIC has a network of local people that help them, and they also put the team up whenever they can, looking after them.

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

On the morning of the raid we were up early, I dont sleep well when Im getting ready for something so I was up way before the rescue team from Orangutan Information Centre. We had some breakfast, a team talk from the director of OIC- Panut  and we set off. All I knew was a young Sumatran Orangutan was being held as a pet and that we could gain access into the courtyard at a certain time and with the help of the local/forest department police we would rescue her.

On the way I got my cameras ready, settings and lens chosen, once we arrived we parked up we entered the small courtyard and to my left I saw a tiny cage with a Sumatran Orangutan slumped on the floor. The smell of urine was really bad as this tiny head lifted up and made eye contact with us. In the background I saw the owner come a man around 45-50 average build and he was talking to the police and team as I lay level with her and spoke to her. She was banging her body into the cage, perhaps excited there were new people in the yard. I’d like to think for those brief moments she came alive and was happy as I was saying “you’re okay now you will be free in a minute so relax”.

Then the tone and tempo changed and the man was standing in front of me talking loudly in Indonesian and waving his arm with a pointed finger. I ignored him and carried on taking images of the young female.Then I heard ” Craig… we have to go he wants us to leave” I was puzzled and said very little. Once back in the car I was told the police got scared, didnt want to take the orangutan or apply the “Law” that they have the power to do. The man holding the Orangutan told them he was an ex-Aceh rebel and was part of the mafia in that area and that if the orangutan was taken we would all disappear.

A common problem I have come across in Sumatra, fear, intimidation, corruption, bribes, money and a total lack of willingness to apply the rules the world have applied to these critically endangered animals. OIC dont have the powers of arrest, they depend on the police to help them and have to pay them for their time, petrol and any other costs. Those we met on that morning came in civilian dress, weren’t wearing their uniform and had little interest in their work or helping the orangutan. Soon after they dropped their invoice off to Paunt though for prompt payment.

The helpless task of saving Sumatran orangutans is made so much harder by the corruption there and to this day I am told this female is still being held illegally. She was estimated to be 6 years old and the children there told the team they had had her a number of years. This tiny small cage has been home for years and it was very troubling and upsetting to see. Efforts to gain her freedom continue, these images show just what a tough and emotional job these guys have and even when everything is on their side things still don’t go their way.

I’d like to think for a few moments her life changed as we were there, she woke, took food from Paunt and begin moving around her tiny cage. Leaving her behind troubles me to this day. This was as close to the frontline as you can get , in the yard of a mafia mans home seeing the results of the illegal pet trade close up for myself. The following images visualize what we saw on that morning I hope, and are dedicated to that Sumatran Orangutan.

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/blog/projects/sumatra-on-the-frontline/20150310681/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

We then headed back to the locals house to eat and rest for the next day as the plan was to locate the female and her baby and fingers crossed rescue her. Again we woke early, got our gear together and set off for the area in which the reports had come into the team of her presence. A number of locals were helping to locate her so when we arrived the team knew roughly the area. I watched as Ricko the vet and the rest of the team put into practice a well drilled operation they have gone through many times.It was then just a matter then of waiting, watching, listening and fingers crossed we’d find her.

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

The shout came back and I followed Ricko the vet, walking through the fragmented forest, we came across several trees and it was then I first saw her. The marksman had already darted her and soon after she fell into the large net held out and open below her by the whole of the HOCRO team as well as some locals. In a matter of minutes I heard a loud crash and she and the baby fell from the trees and landed safely into the net. The team took her to a safe area so they could do their vital checks.

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

When you see these beautiful animals up close you are always struck by their size and colour. It is amazing to be so close to one and I remember my first rescue with this team back in September 2012. Once in a safe place the baby was taken from the mum in order for the check to be carried out. A member of the team got the baby and walked off very carefully so as not to stress the baby any further. Then the vet, Ricko checked the female, inserted a microchip, checked for any injuries, state of heath and so on.

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

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https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/blog/projects/sumatra-on-the-frontline/20150310681/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Once this was done the team carried her to the rescue truck and reunited mother and baby as they placed them both in the cage that was to take them to a safer part of the national park and a second chance of life. We then drove an hour or so to the release site where we had to cross,shoulder deep a river to reach the safe part of the national park.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/blog/projects/sumatra-on-the-frontline/20150310681/

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/blog/projects/sumatra-on-the-frontline/20150310681/

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/blog/projects/sumatra-on-the-frontline/20150310681/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/blog/projects/sumatra-on-the-frontline/20150310681/

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

It was great to witness all this and the end result once the team lifted the door of the cage and slowly she came out along with her baby and climbed the first tree she saw. Just wonderful to witness and see and it was a great day for the team and these two Sumatran Orangutans. We then crossed the river once more which I must say was so refreshing as the temperatures in Sumatra at this time of year is a blistering 36-38 degrees and the humidity levels are very high so you’re always wet anyway.

Once back to our base in Aceh we washed off and relaxed for a while before the 10-12 hour drive south back to the HQ of OIC in Medan. The driving and planning like I say often takes many hours if not days so even though a rescue itself is short its the before, after and traveling that makes the hours flyby.

Once we got back to the headquarters of OIC in Medan a long 12 hour drive the HOCRU team cleaned and packed away the kit and headed home. Some had been away from their families for nearly ten days so everyone was looking forward to the rest and time with loved ones. I cleaned all my camera equipment and charged batteries and backed up my images and did some editing of the rescue images to send back to the UK for SOS– Sumatran Orangutan Society. That night I slept at Panuts house and met his lovely family, wife, and two young children, one boy and one girl. The following day I woke and had breakfast and then headed to the office with Panut and carried on doing some editing to get the images back to Helen, the director of SOS. The news was breaking back in the UK and many sites carried the story and images – EIASOS.

That afternoon though everything changed, the team had a call to let them know a male Sumatran Orangutan had become trapped in land just outside a palm oil plantation. After several calls the team were called in from their homes and we all gathered our gear and headed north once more to the province of Aceh.  All we knew again was their was a male there that had wandered into land where locals were working and they had become scared.

OIC has posters up all around this area and with the help of locals they ring and alert them should a Sumatran Orangutan come into conflict with humans or became trapped and this was a perfect example of that once more. I had been in the country less than a week and already we were on our way to our second rescue it was unbelievable and quite sad that the Sumatran Orangutans are in such danger because for every one that gets rescued there must be many more that don’t and end up being killed or sold into the pet trade which really saddened me.

We reached there quite late, with around a couple of hours light left. The team went into their well drilled routine and off they went to try and locate this male. After a while we caught a brief sighting of him, a hand then he vanished. He seemed to know how to hide and the sun set that night as he gave us the slip. The search was called off as dusk fell, we stayed in a nearby plantation which were helping the rescue team. They made us welcome and cooked some food for us which was a welcome break as with the travelling and searching not many of us had eaten. We then got our heads down and looked forward to the morning.

Before first light we were all up and in place, the team were searching and watching for any tell tale signs of movement. After searching for two hours, they found him, I was on the top of the valley looking down as the team went in. Not long after they had darted him and then began the long walk to the top carrying him in the net with the locals and people from the nearby plantation helping to carry this massive male to where the vet could check him.

The male Sumatran Orangutan is the most beautiful of all the great apes. With privileged access I wanted to try to reflect that beauty within an image. After the team had done all checks on him, I was given the nod by Ricko the vet and I took this very personal image again with my macro lens. Being so close at times felt surreal, 5-6 times stronger than man, this male whose age was around 35 was in his prime and very handsome. He wouldn’t have woken up from the tranquilizer given to him at the point of rescue but still being this close to such a massive and powerful ape made my heart beat so fast. His facial hairs I love and are one of the key characteristics Sumatran Orangutans have from their Borneo Orangutan cousins. The following images take you through that days events.

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/blog/projects/sumatra-on-the-frontline/20150310681/

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/blog/projects/sumatra-on-the-frontline/20150310681/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/blog/projects/sumatra-on-the-frontline/20150310681/

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/blog/projects/sumatra-on-the-frontline/20150310681/

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/blog/projects/sumatra-on-the-frontline/20150310681/

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/blog/projects/sumatra-on-the-frontline/20150310681/

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

These are the HOCRU team and some of the helpers from the plantation and locals that helped to carry this massive male pictured above.  Once he was safety in the cage we loaded up the truck and headed some distance away to the national park to release this beautiful male back into the rainforests where he belongs. When the gate on the cage is pulled up I’m always nervous as to how the Orangutan will come out, they always climb the nearest tree and vanish. This was no different, so amazing to see and witness though and this image below captures that wonderful moment.

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/blog/projects/sumatra-on-the-frontline/20150310681/

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

As we headed back to Medan from Aceh the team were over the moon and so was I. We drove through the night to get back and once home everyone was so tired. The rescue team were given a few days off by Panut and headed home. I backed up my images and headed to bed also. In just over a week on the island of Sumatra I had witnessed three Sumatran Orangutans rescued and relocated and it was amazing to see and witness. As I closed my eyes that night I hoped they were all doing well back in the wild.

My itinerary gave me some time to edit and get the images ready for OIC/SOS over the next day or so and I had time to sleep and get some much needed rest. While you travel around Sumatra it’s hard to escape the vast palm oil plantations that cover most of Sumatra now and also the deforestation that litter the landscape of Sumatra.  The following words and images reflect how I saw this and how I felt driving through these soulless places.

“THE BIRDS DONT SING ANYMORE” by craig jones

Soulless, a lifeless landscape of palm oil forests. The sun still rises in the East, each day it tries desperately to bring life to the spot where once some of the worlds finest rainforest stood. But nothing grows, nothing lives apart from alien palm oil trees

Nature wont forgive, a defiant act, its last stand against those that came without warning ripping every bit of life out in such a brutal manner, killing everything that lived there.

Nature wont allow the same to happen again

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Over the next few days the plan was to visit Medan Zoo for a mission that I hope will end happily for a certain animals while I photographed some of the conditions the animals live in there. After that I headed to see my friend Darma a guide for the forest who I hadn’t seen since September 2012 when I spent several days trekking wild Sumatran Orangutans. I spent some time in the jungles with him again and some much needed peace and beauty after the last week or so. Then I spent time with the HOCRU team in the field once more, after which I spent a wonderful day with the Sumatran Elephants before doing some undercover work and photography. All of this will be covered in my next blog.

I hope you have enjoyed this first blog and if you’d like to donate to this rescue team, the only one of its kind on the island of Sumatra then please see this link many thanks.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography


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Barn Owl Population 2014

Filed in Charities, In the Press on Feb.09, 2015

The Barn Owl trusts 2014 population report has just been published and it was a much better year for one of my favorite birds, the Barn Owl. After the disastrous previous year in 2013 one of the worst on record for Barn Owls 2014 was much better. In most county’s of the UK the breeding populations where up and all reported successfully rearing young which is wonderful news.

http://www.barnowltrust.org.uk/infopage.html?Id=346 - Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

I donate my images to this trust because simply I love Barn Owls and have done all of my life. Proud to say the trust has used my image on the front page of the report which is lovely to see. Making a difference and helping those subjects you love is something my photography enables me to do of which it gives me great satisfaction. We can all do something to help wildlife I feel and I have done since the moment I turned professional.

http://wildplanetphotomagazine.com/2015/the-silent-winged-hunter-of-winters-half-light/

To see the full report click on the following link. This month also see’s my article on these amazing birds in the wonderful Wild Planet photographic magazine. click here to see this. I hope the population carries on growing and good luck to everyone that helps these wonderful birds.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography


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Happy New Year 2015

Filed in Charities, Workshops on Jan.01, 2015

Happy New Year to all my followers and clients past and present, 2014 is now gone and we begin a new year. This year at Christmas I wanted to do something for my local community so with two good friends we managed to raised just over £1800 pounds to give local children something to open on the big day. I sold off 4 limited edition Tiger prints, someone donated a signed football shirt and locals donated what they could to our online donating page.

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

In the end we managed to buy lots of toys for this local charity that cares for women and children that purely replies on donations. The Arch charity have four refuges for women and children who have experienced, or are at risk of, domestic abuse. They offer accommodation and a place of safety where customers can rebuild their lives before moving on to independence.

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

Once we had brought everything the next day we dropped everything off and it was a humbling and moving day in many ways, tinted with sadness these places are full to the brim with children hurt and abused along with their mums. When you see people trying to help it restores your faith in mankind. A big thank you to everyone who donated and helped, the toys were divided up between the many safe places this charity runs and all the children had lots to open on Christmas day which was our aim.

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

After such a moving few days and eating lots over the Christmas period it was back to what I love, being among nature with my camera, working on forthcoming projects that I hope to really spend alot of time on this year. Here are a few of my favorites before the colder weather closed in and the snow came down

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

So with a weather warning in place, roads closed and quite alot of snow fall on the higher grounds I set off for the Peak District. Extreme weather tests you and your resolve, the wildlife still comes out to feed and carry on their daily life. With a blanket of fresh snow and no tracks walking up to 600m in the dark with a small head torch can be quite strange as everything is covered and you can get very disoriented.Using a compass bearing on your small map and stopping every 100m to get a new bearing you can’t really go wrong when everything around you looks the same and its pitch black.

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

Once up at the top, I sat down in a small ditch and listened and watched the best I could. You suddenly hear calls, rustling and so forth and in the absence of clear vision your other senses work overtime to compensate you can build up a picture of what’s happening around you and who is around you.

Soon the Red Grouse were calling, seeing each other off with calls all varying in their loudness and pitch. I often feel as though I’m intruding into their world as they wake around me, unaware I’m hiding in the snow. The key to wildlife photography for me is fieldcraft, something I have said, used and applied from the very first image I took years back.

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

Every living animal knows your there so no matter what you dress as or look like they will have seen you and heard you well before you ever see them. Its how you as the person deals with that level of distribution that’s key and the foundation to your own fieldcraft. Red Grouse are mainly low to the ground, often out of sight, they do two things when they first see you – Fly off, exploding out of the heather and making you jump as you never saw them, or second they see you, put their heads above the heather and call, the sound, pitch and notes they call will depict how concerned they are about your presence.

Go to ground, make yourself small, offer no threat and their calls will slowly start to slow down, fading into a small chuckle and their heads go back down level with the heather as they start feeding once more. The key then is how you get up, get your gear ready and transverse the landscape between you and them without impacting on them and that takes time and skills you can only really learn on the ground yourself.

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

Those of you that have been with me to the Peak District will know what I mean and I have shown you on the ground how to move and work with these Red grouse and often with a bit of luck you can get really lucky once you apply those fieldcraft skills.

Fieldcraft is a word rarely used today in wildlife photography, many wildlife photographers have never used it now embrace it and talk as though they know it well and it’s their skill. For me it’s the most important element to your wildlife photography and from day one it’s the word I have always used and gone on about. I have written many articles and run many workshops and one to ones covering this topic from the very first day of turning professional.

The following images are all as a result of fieldcraft, subject knowledge, luck and a few elements coming together from today. Many Red Grouse males were calling today and its wonderful to see them outstretched when they are calling, their red wattles above their eyes full with testosterone as they call for the females and mark out their patch. One image is of the female who is a brown colour as she sits on the eggs more than the male and she is captured looking at me head on with a surprised look. All the other images are of males and one is bathing in the fresh snow, cleaning his feathers which was funny to watch.

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

Craig Jones wildlife photography

Fieldcraft can be different from one animal to another. Real fieldcraft is where you arrive somewhere and through your own skills and ethics work out what’s around you, you find tracks, prints, poo and wait and watch and it’s something I have done most of my life. You cant buy this skill, you cant just turn up and the wildlife will be there you can learn it though in its simplest form and then apply it to your photography.

The rewards are massive in the end as you see the animal in its true form and see and witness things you never would see normally. Learning a great deal more about the subject which benefits you and the animal as you can see and watch you subject and learn from them. Fieldcraft and ethics go together for me and its good more and more people are becoming aware of this now and talking about it.

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/workshops.php

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/workshops.php

Workshop news and I have a few places for my Wolves trip in July, a few miles from the Russia border. The trip details are here if you’d like to join me. A real highlight for me in 2014 was seeing and spending time watching this family of Wolves, they are so beautiful and intelligent its beyond words. The following slideshow covers my 2014 trip there and a bit of what my clients and I saw.

To see all the other trips, One to Ones and photo tours I run then please click here.

A massive thanks once more to everyone that donated to our toys appeal, thank you to everyone I met in 2014 and for your business and I look forward to meeting new and old clients in 2015. The last twelve months have been really busy for me and this year will be the same, with lots of trips planned alongside my own projects closer to home that I look forward to posting here on my blog. All the very best to you all and thanks again.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography


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Sustainability, Lisbon 2014

Filed in Articles, Charities on Nov.21, 2014

I have just come back from two days in Lisbon, Portugal having attended a conference on sustainability presented by the Jeronimo Martins group.  I was invited along with many others to give their presentations and talk about their respected views on this. I was chosen because of  my work in Sumatra on my self-funded trips their showing through powerful imagery the effect palm oil and timber manufacturing- mostly all illegal is having on this beautiful island.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

Jeronimo Martin is a Portuguese corporate group that operates in food distribution and consumer products manufacturing. It operates around 2,800 stores in Portugal, Poland, and Colombia. The group is a world leader in food distribution operating throughout Europe from their main strong holds in Portugal and Poland. With operations in Colombia too. their influence on this sector is massive.

http://wildplanetphotomagazine.com/2014/saving-sumatras-orangutans/

After a short flight from Manchester I was met at Lisbon airport and driven to my hotel, then later onto the venue where I went through some tests and set up my talk.  When I got into my room a birthday card and chocolates were waiting for me as a welcome gift which was lovely as it had been my birthday the days earlier.  Later I was taken to the venue where I went through some tests and set up my talk up for the following day.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

My plan was to show through images taken on my trips to Sumatra the beauty of this country, its wildlife more so those crucially endangered Sumatran Orangutans and the destruction of this country at the hands of palm oil plantations and timber manufactures.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

I was careful not to come over as an expert there as these guys knew their stuff, it was my aim through my photography to show what I know and have seen. I got to the venue early, got use to the layout and had a coffee and then the people started to arrive. I was introduced to many people including the CEO of the whole group. I had around 30 minutes in which to show the beauty, horror and suffering from what Id seen fro myself in Sumatra and get over my message to this distinguished audience.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

I was on in the afternoon which gave me time to settle in and watch the others.I never really plan a talk so much as in the images go together and speak for me at times. I just talk from my own passion, knowledge and understanding of that situation I’m showing at the time.  I have a basic framework I work too but on the whole I can remember every moment and every image once I look at an image and the story behind that.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

My talk went well, it was my aim to take them on a journey to Sumatra through powerful images and emotive music, you could hear a pin drop as they watched and saw those images of what is happening there and those beautiful Sumatran orangutans I spent time with and have left behind. My aim to show, shock and reveal the truth of the palm oil industry, and the illegal logging I think really hit home to everyone there. I dont think there was one person in that room that will never forget the words- Sumatran, Palm oil and Orangutans.

I was really impressed with everyone’s talks and the powerful message to this well established company’s mission statement where they are  substituting palm oil for vegetable oil.  The opening speech from the CEO was very powerful and set the tone for the whole day for me.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Since my first trip to Sumatra I made a promise to those Orangutans I spent time with in the jungles there that I would do my best in order that their voices would be heard and their plight. To this day I have kept to this promise and below are a few of the talks, articles and presentations I have done since that first visit to Sumatra.

I return to Sumatra next year also to carry on my work and passion for these beautiful apes I have been fascinated with since childhood and I hope my images will always remind people of just how beautiful they are and that we are them and they are us as I say. Click on each image below and it will take you to the place that image was taken or article/photo published.

http://wildplanetphotomagazine.com/2014/saving-sumatras-orangutans/

http://wildplanetphotomagazine.com/2014/saving-sumatras-orangutans/

http://wildplanetphotomagazine.com/2014/saving-sumatras-orangutans/

http://wildplanetphotomagazine.com/2014/saving-sumatras-orangutans/

http://wildplanetphotomagazine.com/2014/saving-sumatras-orangutans/

Nikon-Owner-XLIII-Close-Encounters-2-blog

Nikon-Owner-XLIII-Close-Encounters-9-BLOG

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

I was invited to talk about the Orangutans as part of the Sebastiao Salgado “Genesis” exhibition NHM 2013.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

http://www.discoverwildlife.com/issue/january-2013

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=gomobile.nikon&hl=en_GB

Spotlight Sumatra

Chester Zoo

Chester Zoo

I flew home full of pride and joy having seen and heard the amazing work being done by committed people there which is having  a massive effect on an industry that drives the need for such high demand for palm oil. I was there as a wildlife photographer and I have seen the end result to whats happening in Sumatra, to be around those powerful people that can possible change what I have seen on the frontline there was wonderful. I became a wildlife photographer to place a frame around something I had seen in the wild, to then show to people what beauty we have around us. In the case of Sumatra not only the beauty but also the devastation that is happening there.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

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To use my images for the good of a creature I have loved since a small child is a dream and as a wildlife photographer I have a duty of care not only to my peers who view my work and want to know how I took that image and the skills used but mostly importantly to those animals I see and spend time with in the wild. This for me is truly the greatest thing about being a wildlife photographer.

Being real to myself and more importantly my work is key and has been since I first picked up a DSLR. My love for wildlife stretches over three decades and it was an honor to attain this conference and talk about these great apes. Thank you to all the staff at Jeronimo Martins for looking after me and booking everything and taking care of my stay there in Lisbon. I met some wonderful people and contacts and I hope to be doing more of this to help those Sumatran Orangutans in the coming months.

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

Ask yourselves what you can do for wildlife, not what wildlife can do for you.  The three charities I have worked with in Sumatra that were mentioned in my powerful talk can be seen on the following links – Sumatran Orangutan Society- SOS , Orangutan Information Center – OIC  Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme –  SOCP  Please help and support their work its a massive battle out there in Sumatra and there aren’t many charities on the ground there, these guys are on the coalface, the cutting edge and in some parts hell on earth once you see what humans can do to their planet and the animals.

To see more of my talks or book one please see the following link, many thanks.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography


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SOCP Sumatra Visit -Part 1

Filed in Articles, Charities on Apr.04, 2014

I have just returned for a two week trip to the amazing island of Sumatra in Indonesia. Its my second trip there in as many years and I had the privilege of working alongside and shadowing the work of the Sumatran Orangutan Conversation Program – SOCP. This charity that helps Sumatran Orangutans  and their rainforest homes was set up by Dr Ian Singleton originally from the UK in 1999. Their vision is to prevent the extinction of the Sumatran Orangutan and safeguard their habitat.

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

http://www.sumatranorangutan.org/

After a journey of over 10,000 kilometers I landed in Medan and straight away that heat hit me, you never forget the heat and humility in Sumatra. After waiting for my bag I was picked up by SOCP‘s driver and driven to their office in downtown Medan.

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A busy place far removed from the jungles there. I met all the team from Ian downwards and had my first Sumatran coffee. Its the best in the world I believe and I love coffee. After going through my timetable for the first time I headed to the mess building just around the corner and settled in to rest for a couple of days and in readiness for my trip which was to begin on the Monday with an internal flight to Banda Aceh, the  most northern tip of Sumatra.

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

After a pleasant flight we were picked up at the airport and we drove north stopping off for some lunch. We were heading to a place called Jantho, a beautiful wildness in Aceh saved from the palm oil and logging companies and now a heaven for a very successful reintroduction programme by SOCP. The place can only be reached by off road vehicles so the last bit of the trip was done on these massive wheel-based jeeps of testing terrain. Lucky for us Sumatra hadnt had much rain in the last 3 months, their driest on record another sign if it were needed to the continuing changing patterns to the weather and environment through globe warming.

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https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

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The site is a protected area of exceptionally rich lowland forest, with an unusual high density of fig trees, one of the orangutan’s staple foods. There is also a river which is at the foot of the forest, which can be crossed by people, but cannot be crossed by orangutans making it an natural barrier. Its a reintroduction site for SOCP’s rescued Orangutans taken from their lives as pets or trophies by locals. Once in quarantine they are given a full health check and looked after and monitored before they come to Jantho. There they are given further monitoring before that gate opens and they taste freedom for the very first time in the forests there.

Once we arrived there we settled in and unpacked and met the dedicated team that all work to help those critically endangered Sumatran Orangutans live out the rest of their lives in a safe environment.  Jantho was to be my home for the next three days, I wanted to find and photograph the wild Sumatran Orangutans that live there too along with those released from their torment for the very first time. I quickly unpacked and chose to sleep outside, the river in the background and the noise of the forest all around me.

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There are a series of small huts there, with a generator that comes on for a few hours in the evening, The place is right in the middle of one of the most beautiful places I have ever been in. It truly blew my away with its beauty. We had two nice ladies that did the cooking, they must have thought I’m mad not liking chill as Indonesian people have chill with everything. So I just asked for simpleness please, eggs, rice, fish all plain and they looked after my food needs very well.

Craig Jones Wildlife photography

That first night I didn’t really sleep, new noises, new smells, new places, new stuff always keep me awake. I could wait to get amongst it as I say. I found out what time sunrise was and I was detailed who I would be going out with. The researchers, trackers go out everyday to find, watch and monitor the orangutans there. I met my guides and got my gear ready before the generator turned off at 10pm sharp. I was laying in my make shift bed listening to the river in the background and hearing every noise it was amazing, I couldn’t sleep a mixture of emotions, what was ahead and so on. I got up way before my 5 am alarm, I think it was 4am, the ladies get up early too to prepare your breakfasts and packed lunches to take out for the day.

I couldn’t speak a word of Indonesian but the word. ” Coffee” is universally spoke and understood I feel.  Aceh coffee is the best in the world trust me, its from the province of Aceh in Northern Sumatra. I had a few cups that first morning, grabbed some eggs and rice and I was packed ready, bursting with energy in readiness for what awaited me. Even though I was there to capture photographs that will help SOCP in many ways I never have any per-conserved images in my head. I take what I see and work with what I have this approach never puts pressure on myself and more often or not works for me.

craig jones wildlife photography

With a thumbs up to my guides, we were off to the tiny boat to firstly cross the river the moon lighting our way. I had trackers and researchers with me. As I got into the boat, heavy mist covered the river and I had to go alone due to the size and weight of myself and camera gear on my back. In total darkness the boat slowly crossed the river its was amazing as I hung onto the sides of the boat for dear life. Once we got to the other end anything could turn up so I was ready.

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I went last in the line of trackers as I always like to be the guy at the end of the line. I had around an hour or so before first light and in darkness I cannot explain unless you have been in a dense rainforest we climbed up, vertically for an hour. Head torches lighting our way, the noises and sounds of the jungle all around me. The going was tough, grabbing tree roots to pull myself up as we tired to reach the top of this ridge in time for the dawn.

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Once we reached the top, my legs returned back to their normal state and weren’t burning intensely as they were with a one hour climb. The path ahead was flat and I soon noticed we were almost level with the tops of the massive trees there. Soon the trackers had found a nest and there was a female sleeping inside. I slowly took my camera bag off and got my kit ready working with two camera systems with two different focal lengths.

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https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

Craig Jones Wildlife photography

I sat down and the sun lit the place up as the female climbed out of her nest, the morning mist hanging heavy in the air it was a wonderful and very moving experience to watch and see her. The rays of light penetrating the dense jungle canopy where I under-exposed a lot to give me this amazing effect of light and her shape.

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https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

To watch a wild Sumatran Orangutan wake up, come from her nest and have the sun shining on her through the dense jungle canopy has to be the most special moment I have ever had the privilege of seeing while among nature, it truly does. For the next 20 minutes or so I watched her feed, drink the water from the leaves before disappearing into the dense jungle. These images capture that moment that I was so lucky to see on that first morning in Jantho.

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Once she had gone, I sat down and reviewed some of the images on the back of the camera and I had manged to capture some wonderful moment showing how the light fell.  Once the guys were ready we headed off deeper into the jungle in search of further Sumatran Orangutans. Sadly apart from a few Orangutans around the release cages my luck on that first day didn’t continue and we didn’t get close to another wild Sumatran Orangutan that day but I was so happy what I had witnessed in the morning I think I was still high on the moment if I’m honest.

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When headed back to camp in the last rays of light, crossing the river once more to reach our camp and our evening meal made for us by the two ladies that live there and do all the cooking in very limited conditions.

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That first day was amazing and just as the day was coming to an end and I was off for a shower then bed I saw one of the staff bring in a young female Sumatran Orangutan that had come from the forest and just collapsed. The vets and dedicated staff there worked hard to help her. At first I watched them from a safe distance without my camera, letting them do their magic with drips, blood and other checks they were doing. I went and got my camera and just sat outside this room and watched, routing for the orangutan to pull through.

All the time in the background I could here the steady bleep of the heart rate monitor indicating life and a pulse. It was a truly haunting sound, breaking the still of the night. My heart almost kept up with it as I desperately willed her to fight, fight I was saying inside and live as I watched taking photos of a very private and moving moment. I feel these images though need to be shown to show the passion, love and sheer dedication to keep every single Sumatran Orangutan alive there. I had a massive amount of respect for the vet and the staff, respect is earned, not something you give or buy, having never met these fine people before they had my respect straight away as they fought so tirelessly to save this young female.

craig jones wildlife photography

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

On a day that had given me a rare moment in wonderful light it now offered me a sight I wished Id never seen as it was harrowing to watch this young Orangutan hang on and fight for life. Its hard not to be angry to, witnessing such things as humans, their vile role in the destruction of Sumatra are to blame for this apes suffering and the countless others that have gone before her and after. The constant bleep of her heart ringing out in the silence of the night, troubled me, haunting as if you looked away the noise could still be heard, I couldn’t escape it the more I tired the louder it got. The vet, a wonderful lady soon had things under control and they closed the door of this makeshift theater and turned out the light so the little one could sleep.

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I took those images to bed with my that night, they canceled out those in the morning I was so excited to see. Welcome to Sumatra Craig I said to myself as this is the front line in helping these critically endangered great apes.  I didn’t sleep well that first night as the mosquito’s rained down on me I just didn’t sleep thinking of that harrowing scene and for a few moments I hated mankind and wanted to do something but I couldn’t. I found out in the morning she had made it through and had been transferred to SOCP’s quarantine in Medan. I was to visit there the following week so I was keen to see her fingers crossed.

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The following morning we were up early and I was going to explore  Jantho so more and see some of the work they do there reintroducing those orangutans that have had a shocking life so far back into the wild.   Once the Sumatran Orangutans have spent time in quarantine they are moved to one of SOCP’s release sites.

Here they are put into cages for a number of weeks where they are watched and monitored. contact is minimal so the Orangutans never come into contact again once released into the wild.  Many have stories so bad you couldn’t even imagine in your worst nightmares, the following images are of those almost ready for release and testament to the love, care and handwork of the SOCP staff at Jantho. All the Orangutans there have had shocking starts in life, a world you couldn’t even imagine, the remains of that start still bare fruit in their eyes I felt as I sat and watched and photographed them all.

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https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

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https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

Its a long long road back to the wild for the Sumatran Orangutans without their mums but from what I saw every single person involved from the top to the bottom has a passion to return these great apes to their natural homes and this is very enduring to witness. Once released the trackers and researchers monitor them for as long as they can to just make sure they are doing ok. No contact nothing like that and in time they go off and find their own place within the magical place that is Jantho.

craig jones wildlife photography

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https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

On my last day in the amazing Jantho I went for a walk with one of the forest rangers that accompany you here. We walked through rivers, through the rainforest and it was amazing to see the different species that live here just a spectacular place.

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

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craig jones wildlife photography

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

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https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

I was truly sad to leave Jantho, in three days I feel I’d only just scratched the surface of the place and its wildlife, my guides tell me there are Sumatran Tigers there two. I have to go back, I just have too for weeks perhaps next time.

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

As we left Jantho the sun started to set. A head of us was around an 8 hour maybe more drive to Tripa to try and photograph the burning of the forests there but it was going to be hard to get into through security etc. But we all got our heads down in the car as we drove south.

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As the night passed and we where in sight of Trip and the amazing Leuser Ecosystem the sun was just started to rise, filling the air with the most wonderful colours that I have ever witnessed . This place is one of the few remaining in Sumatra and is under grave danger of being flattered and there are many campaigns to save it.

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As we approached nearer the sun was coming up and I could see so many images in my head. we stopped the car many times but the area is very sensitive and a tall, westerner with a camera is not welcome in these parts so I took a few images and then the blacked out windows had to stay up as we entered the blacked-mailed area in which Tripa is. Most of the population there have been brought off and are involved in someway with the palm oil industry. There are many spies and people that will inform the companies of your presence so it was like working behind enemy lines it wasn’t nice to see the hold these massive companies has on this area in order to control it and its forest for their own gain.

The beauty of Jantho was soon replaced by an aggressive feel in the air, I could feel my own anger already building as I sat in the car and drove to meet our contacts there. I was told it wasn’t certain if we could even get into Tripa such was the tight security after the worlds press and many campaigns had highlighted the vileness that’s happening there.  The news came back to us that three days of rain had put out most of the new fires so any images of burning wouldn’t be possible.

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Once we met our contacts on bikes they drove us past lots of checks and onto a part of the Tripa swamp forest that had been set alight three days earlier but the rain had given the area a small reprieve. I have had experience in the past in Sumatra of visiting the wastelands killed by the mindless greed, local people doing the large companies dirty work for a few dollars. Once we arrived and got out the vast waste land of Tripa greeted me. Its hard to put into words as I walked among the burned remains of a once proud and beautiful rainforest. The following images I hope convey my thoughts at the time of seeing this shocking, truly shocking site.

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https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

After the beauty of Jantho it was really upsetting and greatly moving to be walking among where once stood some of the worlds finest rainforest. The earth still warm beneath my feet as though I had gatecrashed at illegal party I had no invite too. While the world debates whats happening here I was standing on land that 3 days ago was burning the only saving grace was the rains. Three days of rain had put out all the fires almost a last shout for help to the world before the whole area was to be burnt. As we were there a guy drove up on a motorbike and through our translator he’d said to move as the whole area was to be fired later.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

A few pockets of green life had hung on, escaping the first wave of fire. As I knelt down I saw a splash of red..” no way it cant be..?” I said, it was, a lone Ladybird among the burnt reminds of its home. I love Ladybirds, their colours and markings are just beautiful and here among this tattered wasteland one had hung onto life. A last stance against those destroying this place, as I took this image I should have put in in my pocket and took him with me to release into a better environment but I didn’t. I hope he used his wings to escape the coming fires I thought and walked away.

Words, memories and my photographs are all I can use to describe this scene from hell, this is happening at such an alarming rate there will be nothing left soon. When its too late for those in power to be stopped. Without the handful and I mean handful of dedicated charities on the ground fighting a massive war, often at times putting themselves at risk if they don’t play ball with the government. two steps forward four back. The last remaining pockets of rainforest are in the hands of people being pulled in all directions with the common aim to bleed the riches of the land, make their money then retire leaving Sumatra. The whole are is releasing so much greenhouse gases, heat and population into the air at such an alarming rate that now we have so called experts telling us what we all knew all along. That the earth is warming, the seas are getting warmer and the world is under attack from what we are doing in a nutshell.

As I stood on the fresh burnt land, birds sung in a last act of defiance, with nowhere to go, nowhere to nest it was greatly upsetting to here their song at what should be a beautiful moment when you hear birdsong. There was nothing for those birds, their calls weren’t returned by their would be mates, they’d moved on to a better place leaving those males stuck there singing for a mate in a soleless territory. heartbreaking. This was a crime scene I stood among, soleless, completely soleless and to here a local say you better move I wanted to stay and say move me, I wanted to protect what still stood but silly I no. All sorts of emotions go through your mind those working in this hell must get use to it a little. Those that visit like me are moved behold words. I wanted somewhere to sit and take it all in but we had to move on. We were lucky not to have been moved on already such is the paranoia of the firms and locals that work for them.

We left Tripa, and I sat in the car, undid my window and took a last look back at what would be gone in 24 hours, that feeling of helplessness stayed with me throughout the trip as the person I am I try to do all I can. To have no choice, to be able to nothing is a feeling I dislike. Sumatra is a place full of beauty and the local people are very kind but it has a side that grinds you down once you see the total destruction of the place around you.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

I cannot cover my whole trip in one blog , so there will be two more where I will cover my second week in Suaq Balimbing, a peat swamp area and then my time in quarantine. A place where the Orangutans learn to heel their hurt with love, care and dedication from the staff there. It was a very moving place for me, full of stories of abuse and hurt you couldn’t even make up, but those Orangutans are the lucky one. 50 babies are there, meaning 50 mothers were killed by those that took their babies. A sentence I have trouble getting out let alone understanding. I will pay my own respects to those mothers and babies in my future blog posts and slideshows that I have planned.

I would like to thank Dr Ian Singleton, the head of SOCP for inviting me over, thank you to all his staff for looking after me during my time there and on a personal note I was very proud to be alongside you all, seeing the incredible work they do to save this critically endangered Sumatran Orangutan and their forest home which is also home to Tigers, Elephants, Rhinos all hanging onto dear life. They are fighting at this very moment to save large areas of the Tripa swamp lands that form part of the Leuser Ecosystem. To help the ongoing fight then click here to sign their petition.

I hope my images, my work and what I will show will help you guys in turn the Sumatran Orangutans many thanks.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography


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Sumatran Orangutans Last Call

Filed in Charities on Jun.02, 2011

Last chance to sign up for a place on our Sumatran photography and conservation adventure please view the trip here. This itinerary is in association with the Sumatran Orangutan Society (SOS) and a proportion of the cost will be donated to the charity to allow it to continue its vital conservation work with the Orangutans and their habitat in Sumatra. This trip is designed to give you a taste of life in the jungle: trekking and camping in the forest, taking part in an elephant trek, and with the highlight being the chance to see the beautiful Orangutans in their forest home.

This charity is dedicated to the conservation of Sumatran Orangutans and their forest home, where each person on this photo-tour will directly be helping the Orangutan and their habitat, with money from each person booked onto this trip going to the Sumatran Orangutan Society, whose work is to help protect and conserve this area for the future of our closest relative. The principal focus of this photo tour will be the Orangutan, capturing them within their natural habitat, looking for behaviours to capture and so on, as we visit some of the most magnificent forests on Earth, which are also the domain of many other beautiful and stunning animals and birds, where some only live in this part of the world and nowhere else on the planet.

Across the Orangutans entire range, conversion of forests to oil palm plantations is occurring on a massive scale, logging continues even within protected areas, and planned road networks threaten to fragment the habitat of the last viable populations. These factors are responsible for the loss of over 80% of Orangutan habitat over the last 20 years. We have to save this amazing animal and during this tour I will also be photographing the story of the local people, the palm plants and conveying with moving and powerful photography what is happening to these amazing forests where I will be reporting back for SOS.For any further information in the trip then please email me here, for the detailed itinerary then click here or visit Different Travels website many thanks.


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Sumatran Orangutan Expedition

Filed in Charities, In the Press, Wildlife on Apr.27, 2011

In the May issue of the Outdoor Photography magazine there is a full page advert for a wonderful trip I am leading to the amazing jungles of Sumatra. The aim of this trip is to highlight the cause of maybe the first great ape to become extinct should current trends continue. At the same time raise money for the charity SOS- Sumatran Orangutan Society.

This charity is dedicated to the conservation of Sumatran Orangutans and their forest home, where each person on this photo-tour will directly be helping the Orangutan and their habitat, with money from each person booked onto this trip going to the Sumatran Orangutan Society, whose work is to help protect and conserve this area for the future of our closest relative. The principal focus of this photo tour will be the Orangutan, capturing them within their natural habitat, looking for behaviours to capture and so on, as we visit some of the most magnificent forests on Earth, which are also the domain of many other beautiful and stunning animals and birds, where some only live in this part of the world and nowhere else on the planet.

Sadly the ‘Old Man of the forest’ has been subjected to relentless pressures which has reduced the world’s population by as much as 50% during the last 10 years. Hunting for meat and the demands of the pet trade have been contributory factors but the more significant issue has been the large-scale clearance of rain forest throughout this region leaving very few habitats left for these apes.

There are surely few more enduring creatures in the world than the gentle giant of the rainforests, the Orangutan. With around 97% of an Orangutans genetic makeup being the same as a human and where such a close affinity to Homo sapiens is obvious upon gazing into their beautiful faces and watching their behaviour and how they conduct their lives. The evolutionary links with mankind are plain to see after such encounters with this amazing ape that now only live wild in two places in the world, Borneo and Northern Sumatra.

The charity also works in restoring degraded areas inside the border of the Gunung Leuser National Park, working with local government and local communities to restore vital Orangutan habitat that has been damaged by illegal oil palm plantations established within the protected area. So much brilliant work is going on out there to save these animals.  This trip as you can see by the Itinerary will be truly amazing, covering different areas, sleeping in the jungle with its amazing noises and uniqueness all of its own.

There is an amazing film called “Green” the film is an emotional journey following Greens’ final days, a powerful film that has won many awards. The sounds of the jungle are amazing, this trailer transports you there with those amazing jungle noises you will here every morning on this trip.  There are thousands of Orangutans in need of real help in this part of the world, another animal on the very brink of disappearing from our plant.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQn9-GPHZIY

Helen the UK Director of SOS has done an amazing job and she has had amazing support for this trip from many people, Paramo, the clothing company are offering 10% discount on their range for people going onto this trip. Greys Of Westminster, Practical Photography/Photo Answers, Outdoor photographyAction for Apes and many more have got behind SOS in turn helping this great ape.

So on behalf of the Sumatran Orangutan I’d like to thank all those involved and who have helped.  There are places still available on this trip, so for more details please contact Helen at SOS, or contact Different Travel directly. I look forward to meeting you all in September, many thanks.


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Sumatran Orangutan Expedition

Filed in Charities, Places Of Interest, Workshops on Dec.22, 2010

Months of planning have finally all come together now in the form of this unique and bespoke photo tour to the amazing wilderness that is Sumatra. I will be leading this amazing Photo-Tour alongside expert trackers on the ground in Sumatra, working with the brilliant Charity- Sumatran Orangutan Society.

This charity is dedicated to the conservation of Sumatran Orangutans and their forest home, where each person on this photo-tour will directly be helping the Orangutan and their habitat, with money from each person booked onto this trip going to the Sumatran Orangutan Society, whose work is to help protect and conserve this area for the future of our closest relative.

I have always been fascinated with these Great Apes for as long as I can remember and upon first seeing one of these amazing animals back in 2000 in a rehabilitation centre in Thailand I have always wanted to help them when and where I could.  I had a close encounter with a male Orangutan, an experience that touched deep into my sole, as I watched and looked into the eyes of these beautiful animals, it was something I have never forgot as I sat on the ground, mimicking their behaviour of picking up ants with a small stem.  A powerful male with pronounced cheeks denoting his age, was slowly moving towards me, closer and closer until I could hear him breathing.  He slowly and gently took the stem off me, his hand almost perfectly formed the same as a human, with dark nails, he then just slowly moved away and out of site, a moment I can see as I type these words.  

I was lost for words, an amazing moment that I can still see as if it was yesterday, such is the beauty, grace of this animal.  The principal focus of this photo tour will be the Orangutan, capturing them within their natural habitat, looking for behaviours to capture and so on, as we visit some of the most magnificent forests on Earth, which are also the domain of many other beautiful and stunning animals and birds, where some only live in this part of the world and nowhere else on the planet. Sadly the ‘Old Man of the forest’ has been subjected to relentless pressures which has reduced the world’s population by as much as 50% during the last 10 years. Hunting for meat and the demands of the pet trade have been contributory factors but the more significant issue has been the large-scale clearance of rain forest throughout this region leaving very few habitats left for these apes

There are surely few more enduring creatures in the world than the gentle giant of the rainforest’s, the Orangutan. With around 97% of an Orangutans genetic makeup being the same as a human and where such a close affinity to Homo sapiens is obvious upon gazing into their beautiful faces and watching their behaviour and how they conduct their lives. The evolutionary links with mankind are plain to see after such encounters with this amazing ape that now only live wild in two places in the world, Borneo and Northern Sumatra.

Across the Orangutans entire range, conversion of forests to oil palm plantations is occurring on a massive scale, logging continues even within protected areas, and planned road networks threaten to fragment the habitat of the last viable populations. These factors are responsible for the loss of over 80% of Orangutan habitat over the last 20 years. We have to save this amazing animal and during this tour I will also be photographing the story of the local people, the palm plants and conveying with moving and powerful photography what is happening to these amazing forests where I will be reporting back for SOS and updating their Blog alongside my own as and when I have wifi access out there.

We will also be planting new trees in areas that have been safeguarded and protected for the Orangutans and all the other wildlife that live here. With projects concentrating on teaching local communities about the benefits of reforestation and developing alternative livelihoods. SOS  distribute seedlings and have established organic forestry centres near degraded forest areas, providing training so that communities can produce their own seedlings for future replanting.

They have established a number of nursery and replanting sites in Aceh and North Sumatra, and have now planted over 570,000 seedlings an area we will visit so guests can have the chance to plant their own trees here, we will also work in the deforested regions around and within the Leuser Ecosystem, which is the most important remaining habitat for the Sumatran Orangutan.

The charity also works in restoring degraded areas inside the border of the Gunung Leuser National Park, working with local government and local communities to restore vital Orangutan habitat that has been damaged by illegal oil palm plantations established within the protected area. So much brilliant work is going on out there to save these animals.  This trip as you can see by the Itinerary will be truly amazing, covering different areas, sleeping in the jungle with its amazing noises and uniqueness all of its own. 

Along with the guides I will also be showing some interesting and key skills and survival techniques derived from my own experiences of working in these jungle habitats on different continents over the years while serving in HM armed forces.  The trip has it all and I am so passionate about helping these animals so if you would like to book or want more information then email me or contact SOS. And you can view the trip on the BBC Wildlife Magazine Website here

A big thank you to Helen- the  UK Director of the Sumatran Orangutan Society for all your help in making this trip happen, thank you to Different Travel for their help also, and lastly thank you to those who book on behalf of the Sumatran Orangutan, I look forward to seeing you all in Sumatra next September.


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