How SnapperX contributes to Willie Smits’ projects to save orangutans in Borneo - Snapper

How SnapperX contributes to Willie Smits’ projects to save orangutans in Borneo

How SnapperX contributes to Willie Smits’ projects to save orangutans in Borneo

Gepost door SnapperX op 26-11-2019

Multiple times a year, SnapperX founder Tom Nuytens travels to Indonesia to visit the nonprofit organisations that we donate 1% of our annual sales to. An important one we fund is Masarang Foundation, founded by Dr. Willie Smits, a Dutch bio engineer and the world’s most prominent protector of orangutans and their natural habitat. 

Willie has consistently worked to address the root causes of deforestation and restore the relationship between the animal world, our planet, and humankind. His vision and work are revolutionary that Belgian tv host Dieter Coppens travelled to Borneo to document it for Animalitis, a show about animals broadcasted by Belgian television channel Één. 

Over time Willie Smits (left) and Tom Nuytens (right) have become good friends, working together to create a new home for orangutans to be released into. 

In two episodes Dieter Coppens visits Willie at his Sintang Orangutan Center (SOC), where him and his team help primates that have fallen victim to the palm oil industry, or that have been kept prisoner in people’s homes. We see how these ‘thinkers of the jungle’ recover and are trained (first in cages, later in practise forests) to be released back into their natural habitat. Orangutans usually stay with and learn from their mom until the age of 7, so at the SOC they often have to learn basic things, such as how to build a nest every evening and what they can and cannot eat. 

Tom with one of the saved orangutans at the Sintang Orangutan Center.

What really sets Willie apart and why we choose to support his nonprofit specifically, is the belief that to rebuild orangutan populations, it is crucial to 1) rebuild their forest habitat, and 2) address the social causes of deforestation and orangutan habitat loss by empowering local workers to find alternatives to harvesting forests. If they make so much money off palm oil plantations, how can we offer them an alternative? 

So Willie started restoring an area of about 5000 acres in Borneo that had been completely devastated by clear cutting. This biodiverse, healthy man-made rainforest – a first of its kind – is now home to the hundreds of rehabilitated orangutans. To grow, protect and preserve the forest land itself, his solution is simple: Willie offers locals free land to plant crops in the forest. In return for both the land and farming income, the villagers must protect the rainforest and the animals that live there. 

By improving around 3000 villagers’ quality of life, Willie Smits has provided powerful incentives for long-term ecological and economic restoration. Now that’s a full circle project worth supporting! 

Watch the episodes of Animalitis on Wednesday november 27th and Wednesday december 4th at 20:40 on Één, or watch online here.  


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