Writing about the plight of our primate cousins the orangutans, gorillas and chimps has been on my todo list for a while so when I heard that the Australian Museum was featuring the “Face to Face” exhibition created by the Natural History Museum, London I immediately made time in my schedule to see it.
In Australia for the first time until 27 April 2008 the exhibition features thirty emotive portraits of primates – gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos and orang-utans – whose innocence and vulnerability forces us to question our own inhumanity and arrogance in the way we mistreat nature.
These extraordinary images were taken over four years by photographer James Mollison in ape sanctuaries in Africa and Asia.
The world’s leading authority on ape behaviour, Jane Goodall, helped him to develop relationships with the apes so he could capture their unique personalities through photography.
Credit: Bonny © James Mollison (orang-utan)
The photographs highlight the vitality and intelligence of these magnificent and threatened animals – our closest biological relatives.
The exhibition encourages us to consider our relationship with the natural world by bringing us face to face with some of the individual animals that have been most deeply affected by the actions of humans.
Reproduced at two metres high and presented in full-face, passport style, each photograph tells a tragic personal story eg: Bonny’s mother was killed so that he could be taken for the live animal trade.
A few days ago I went to a night talk at the Australian Museum run by the Borneo Orangutan Survival foundation explaining how they help take care of orphaned and injured orangutans as well as trying to maintain & restore their habitat.
First established in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan in 1994 as the Balikpapan Orangutan Society, BOS (which now stands for the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation) has grown to become the largest orangutan conservation organization in the world.
An Indonesian non-profit organization it’s whose mission is ‘to contribute to the conservation of the orangutan and their habitats’.
The photo of baby orangutans playing in a wheelbarrow at right is quite cute, they look just like little human children playing at school – until you realise that they are all orphans at a BOS sanctuary 🙁
Credit: © Borneo Orangutan Survival
It costs BOS US$4,500 to rescue, rehabilitate and release each orangutan. Help BOS continue its important conservation work by donating money or products.
“If we don’t do anything to save them, in 10 to 15 years the great apes could disappear from the majority of the areas where they now live”, said Jane Goodall, renowned primatologist, conservationist and United Nations Messenger of Peace.
Don’t miss this rare chance to look into the eyes of the living beings that share our planet and over 96% of our DNA. Be humbled by the humanity in the faces of those who have experienced such devastating inhumanity and consider the concept of a new world – for all of us.
“Face to Face” is at the Australian Museum until 27 April 2008