In April 2022, I had the privilege of photographing and documenting the BOS Foundation in action in both Central and East Kalimantan. Reflecting fondly on the photographs taken and my experiences there, I feel there are three major and important lessons I learned that are worth sharing.
Lesson 1: The Rainforest is a True Treasure from Nature
When I set foot in the rainforest, I was amazed by the diversity of flora and fauna there. At the Tuanan Research Station, I was able to experience being in the rainforest and heard all kinds of sounds from different species, and saw an abundance of flora. It was such a joy to explore the rainforest with my camera! Being that close to nature and documenting it through my lens certainly left a deep impression on me. Looking at the amazing biodiversity in the rainforests, it is no wonder that around 25% of our medicines originate from plants found in rainforests. It truly amazes me how generous nature is to us.
Lesson 2: Saving Orangutans Means Saving Our Rainforests
Many people wonder why the orangutan should be prioritised as a species that needs to be saved from extinction. The reason is twofold. The first part is that the orangutan is closely related to humans; as a species, we share 97% DNA with orangutans. There is much research on orangutans, and they all agree on one thing: Orangutans are highly intelligent beings. They have feelings, as seen in their facial expressions; can mimic behaviour; and use tools. Researching orangutans will help us better understand our own nature and help us understand the human species better.
The second part is that you are essentially saving the rainforest when you save orangutans. Orangutans need a variety of fruits and plants to survive, and they need space to roam in the wild. Their perfect, natural habitat is the rainforest. In essence, you can’t just save orangutans if you can’t save the rainforest, since it’s their home. Orangutans are known as an umbrella species in the rainforest, so when you save both orangutans and the rainforests they inhabit, you are also saving countless other species that live in rainforests.
Lesson 3: We Can All Make a Contribution to Saving Rainforests
The third and final lesson I learned is that you don’t have to go to Borneo or be an expert to save rainforests. Everyone can contribute to saving rainforests. One simple thing, such as carefully selecting responsibly-sourced products, can help save rainforests. For example, you can avoid purchasing products made from materials that drive rainforest destruction, such as those made from or with mahogany, rosewood, or ebony. Even better, you can start using recycled products. Make sure you buy from companies that have a good track record when it comes to using sustainable materials. Simple things like this might seem trivial, but they will go a long way in helping us in our quest to save the treasures that nature has so generously given us.
About Andrew Suryono:
Andrew Suryono is a renowned, international, award-winning photographer known for his fine art in nature, travel, and conservation. Through his photographs, he explores the duality of our world, expressing diversities that demonstrate the connectedness between human beings and nature.
Based in his home country, Indonesia, Andrew actively works with clients and students from the U.S., Europe, Japan, and Southeast Asia. His photographs have been exhibited in museums, galleries, and major publications in 15 countries. He has had the privilege of working with world-leading organisations, including National Geographic, Sony, Disney, and governmental organisations.