Zac, Andrew and Suzi share their thoughts on our new appeal.We're raising money to help guides at Bukit Lawang, Tangkahan and Ketambe get through COVID-19. Our volunteer photographers have shared their thoughts about our appeal.
While I may be the one pressing the shutter, I cannot overstate the importance of having a great guide. And I’m lucky to work with some of the best in the world, who also happen to be some of my best friends. Not only are they well-experienced, have a deep knowledge of wildlife and the environment, and all-around great individuals, they are also able to anticipate behavior and put me in the best possible position to create a compelling image. So many of my favorite photos are a direct result of working with guides over the years.
For these reasons, a great guide can literally make all the difference between getting a winning shot or coming home empty handed.
Unfortunately, many of my guide friends are now out of work with the global shutdown in travel and wildlife areas due to COVID-19, with little or no recourse for government assistance. This is why I am so supportive of SOS’s initiative to help the guides and their families near Gunung Leuser National Park, the best place to see Sumatran orangutans. I’ve donated, please donate if you can. Every little bit counts. – Zac Mills
These are three of my favourite orangutan photos. I’m lucky to have a collection of hundreds to choose from, and a large part of the reason I have so many is because I’ve been led on hikes through Sumatra’s rainforest by experienced, committed and caring guides. I’m very grateful for their time and expertise.
SOS is currently raising money to help guides at three sites in the Leuser Ecosystem survive the loss of income they’re facing due to Covid-19. If you’ve ever admired my photos, or photos of Sumatran orangutans by other wildlife photographers, or been to an ecotourism site in Sumatra to see orangutans for yourself, please donate. – Andrew Walmsley
The lockdown due to the pandemic has brought financial devastation to Sumatra’s naturalist guides that rely on tourism for survival. I am proud to be an Ambassador of the Sumatran Orangutan Society (SOS) who has launched a campaign to buy food for the guides and their families. They are in dire need of basic supplies like rice, eggs, sugar and noodles (which will be supplemented with fruits and vegetables from their smallholdings). To buy a day’s worth of supplies for one family costs $1.75 so ten days’ worth would be $17 or a month’s worth would be $52. Please consider donating.
These guides are people like Darma (pictured in this photo), who I worked with when photographing critically endangered orangutans. Darma knew the forest and the orangutans like the back of his hand. Before he was a park guide he worked with orangutans rescued from the exotic pet trade who were later released into the park. He knew these orangutans so well that one of them, a female named Jackie, still recognized him even many years later. Sometimes when we were walking in the forest she would climb down from the trees, lock eyes with him and the walk alongside him for a few paces on the trail before climbing back up into the trees. It was honestly one of the most touching things I have experienced working with apes. Orangutan photo shows Jackie and her baby in Gunung Leuser National Park in Sumatra. – Suzi Eszterhas