I won a trip to Malaysian Borneo with my photography and spent a couple of weeks travelling around the world's third largest island. This trip was both wonderful and very disturbing at the same time. We travelled through some of the very last virgin forest remaining in Borneo however on the long and bumpy road leading to Sabah we were constantly pulling over to the side of the road to allow lorries past, hauling enormous, old trees going to the saw mill. We passed a lorry about every 10 minutes on our 2-3 hour journey loaded with trees. And this was in the area where the 'virgin' forest was supposed to be.
In this area we did see our one and only wild orang-utan, which was awesome, and he was only a few metres from our hotel.
Looking into the eyes of this highly endangered great ape made me wonder if there is any chance for wildlife in the face of the relentless drive of humanity to provide for our out of control population. If we can't save an animal with eyes as human as the orang-utan then I do not know what we will manage to protect in the long run. Those eyes of the orang-utan haunted me with their look of intelligence and emotion. It was very hard not to be anthropomorphic in the face of a creature whose eyes looked like they were expressing emotions that I could relate to and understand.
However there will be no forest left for the Orang-utan soon if we continue to cut it down in order to plant palm oil trees. Palm oil can be found in almost all processed foods on our supermarket shelves as well as items such as candles and soap.
When flying back from Sabah I looked out of the windows of the tiny plane and on both sides all I could see in both directions was palm oil plantations.
Related links: Orang-utan Protection Foundation www.orangutanprotectionfoundation.org