Two dedicated young Sydney brothers were awarded not one but two awards at the National Pride of Australia medal ceremony held in Sydney over the weekend. The pair took out both the Pride of Australia Medal (Environment Category) and the People’s Choice Award for their inspirational quest to save critically endangered orangutans in Borneo and Sumatra.
Daniel (16) and William (14) have been on a mission for over five years to save the orangutan species, despite Daniel having Cerebral Palsy and being mostly confined to a wheelchair. Together, the boys have raised over $650,000, self-published their own book, Tears in the Jungle, and are on their way to achieving their goal of raising $1 million.
As voted by the Australian public, the boys also won the People’s Choice Award, receiving $10,000 to go towards their favourite charity. It was a no brainer for the boys to nominate The Orangutan Project Safeguard Program as their charity of choice.
“Being recognised for our efforts to help save the orangutans of Borneo and Sumatra is a huge honour and we are overwhelmed by the support from everyone around Australia. We are thrilled that the $10,000 is going to protect 33,000 acres of orangutan habitat,” said Daniel Clarke.
The Orangutan Project is Australia’s largest orangutan conservation not-for-profit and is active in all areas of orangutan conservation, rainforest protection, local community partnerships and the rehabilitation and reintroduction of displaced orangutans back to the wild in Borneo and Sumatra - the only two remaining places in the world where orangutans are found.
The Orangutan Project Safeguard Program funds Wildlife Protection Units and Wardens - frontline forest patrols that help deter illegal logging, land clearing and wildlife crimes that are destroying the rainforest and endangering many wildlife species, particularly the orangutans.
“Our Safeguard Program provides necessary employment for young local men in the area, as an alternative to working in destructive palm oil plantations. The more that work to protect the remaining forest, the more chance we have to save orangutans from imminent extinction, and the myriad of endangered species that live in the same forests. Daniel and William’s tireless work is a gift to this species,” says Leif Cocks, President of The Orangutan Project.
Daniel and William’s generous donation will go towards protecting approximately 33,000 acres of prime orangutan habitat in Borneo and Sumatra, and will support further Wildlife Protection Units to operate in these areas.
The boys now have their sights set on the future, and have a long-term goal to address the United Nations to help promote the orangutan cause as well as inspire the youth of the world that they too can make a difference. The brothers also hope to travel to Africa to do another three more books on each of the remaining great apes, and continue their work to improve the environment.
“It is amazing to see what we have achieved since the start of our quest and the support that we have gained along the way. Our goal is to inspire kids all over the world to find and follow their passion in life whatever that may be. We can all make our world a better place,” says William Clarke.
Tears In The Jungle: A Children’s Adventure to Save The Orangutan, is self-published and can be purchased through www.tearsinthejungle.com. Money raised from the sale of the book is donated by Daniel and William to orangutan rescue, rehabilitation and release programs as well as habitat protection initiatives. To date, Daniel and William have protected over 20,500 acres of jungle through The Orangutan Project.