Dedicated orangutan advocate retires
WHAT started out as birthday gifts to her grandchildren turned into a decade-long mission to help an endangered species.
Lismore resident, Helen Armstrong was recently recognised for ten years of volunteer service for The Orangutan Project - a not-for-profit organisation supporting conservation for the Bornean and Sumatran orangutan species, which are at risk of extinction.
Helen discovered the desperate plight of orangutans and started making a difference by by giving baby orangutan adoptions as birthday gifts to her grandchildren.
She later stepped up her commitment to help the endangered monkeys by visiting the Indonesian island of Borneo, where she experienced the challenges were facing orangutan because of rapid deforestation.
The Orangutan Project president, Leif Cocks said Helen was a "devoted and passionate volunteer" who has paved the way for a better future for many orangutans.
"Her immense contribution during this time has made a significant difference to the lives of many orangutans and other wildlife. Volunteering for any cause requires dedication and at times sacrifice as you direct your time and energy to make a difference and Helen has been a fine example of this," Mr Cocks said.
Helen will be retiring at the end of the year to take a well-deserved break and to pursue her other interests, including photography and a trip to China.
About 80% of orangutan habitat has disappeared in the last 20 years, taking it's toll on populations in Indonesia.
There are approximately 55,000 Bornean orangutans left in the wild with about 5,000 being killed each year.
In Sumatra, orangutan populations are in similar decline with 14,600 Sumatran orangutans left in the wild and an estimated 1,000 killed each year.
Visit the TOP website for more information about their orangutan conservation efforts.