5
Apr
2010

The WildLife: Orangutans Part I, Michelle Desilets & Shawn Thompson

Michelle Desilets, Executive Director of the Orangutan Land Trust, divulges the interesting biology and habits of orangutans in the first of a two-part interview. She gives “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme an insider’s look at what makes these red apes fascinating, endearing, infuriating and worthy of protection. For instance, did you know orangutans don’t like the rain? Yet they don’t complain and instead fashion roofs and umbrellas out of leaves. You’ll also gain insights into why these animals are under threat. Michelle Desilets has been working on orangutan conservation alongside Lone Droscher Nielsen, the internationally well-known champion of these apes, for over 15 years. Together, the two women founded the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Reintroduction Project which now has over 600 orangutans in its care, making it the largest such center in the world. Michelle also founded the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation UK (BOS) and served as its Executive Director and initiated a number of international campaigns to help orangutans, such as campaigns to end the illegal trade of orangutans and to repatriate known smuggled orangutans, as well as the campaign for sustainable palm oil.  Currently, she is the Executive Director of the Orangutan Land Trust. She also sits on several working groups in the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil and spends a good deal of time at the Nyaru Menteng project. In this podcast, you’ll also hear Shawn Thompson, author of a new book on orangutans called The Intimate Ape. Shawn is a university professor at Thompson Rivers University in British Columbia, Canada as well as a writer.  As a journalist, he rode a Canadian submarine, tracked down a fugitive in the Dominican Republic and was voluntarily incarcerated for a weekend in Canada's oldest maximum-security federal penitentiary. In 2001, he went to the jungles of Borneo to see orangutans and discovered a new passion in his life. His latest book, called The Intimate Ape, is about orangutans and came out in March 2010. To write it, he spent years hiking through the jungles of Borneo and Sumatra and had many adventures -- from getting chased by wild pygmy elephants in Borneo, to sleeping inside the zoo in Jakarta. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on April 5, 2010.

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