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Forest Conservation An Existential Issue For Humanity

Steve Irwin was best-known as the crocodile hunter. His enthusiasm for the natural world was contagious. He would be proud to know that two young Australians are doing their best to fill his shoes. They are doing a tremendous job and making an enormous impact.

Daniel Clarke and his family had a deep respect for fellow Australian Steve Irwin—the crocodile hunter. They were greatly saddened when Irwin died from a stingray barb in September 2006. Shortly thereafter, 10-year-old Daniel watched Irwin’s production about orangutan conservation, which sparked a passion and a remarkable mission within Daniel, who has cerebral palsy.

“Steve Irwin was my inspiration,” Daniel said. “I was devastated when he died.”

In 2007, the Starlight Foundation granted Daniel a wish. His wish was extraordinary.

“I want to save the orangutan in Borneo and Sumatra,” Daniel said.

The Starlight Foundation met to discuss the impact of Daniel’s wish. After several days, The Foundation called to explain that they never had a child who wanted such a selfless wish.

The Starlight Foundation tried to accommodate Daniel’s wish, but saving an endangered species that lives in the jungles of Indonesia and Malaysia is not a simple task for a young man or a million men, especially when the species in question is in the crosshairs of agricultural expansion, logging and corruption. Given the complexity of the challenge, Daniel compromised and took a trip with his family to the Australia Zoo, which ignited Daniel’s passion for orangutan conservation even more.

Daniel’s family found The Orangutan Project (TOP), which “adopts” orangutans for $55 per year. Daniel adopted an orangutan and encouraged others to do the same. Then he decided to raise $10,000 to help save orangutans. His school principal helped him develop a fundraising event, which raised $5,500 for TOP. The conservation organization named Daniel as the National Children’s Ambassador.

In 2008, The Starlight Foundation invited Daniel’s family to see a Rugby Union Football match between the Wallabies and Wales. He met former Australian Prime Minister John Howard after the game. Howard listened to Daniel’s explanation of his quest to save the orangutan. The Prime Minister later pledged $500,000 over four years to an American Non-Government Organization to help save the orangutan.

Thanks to an anonymous sponsor, Daniel and William made their first of two trips to Borneo to see orangutans in the wild and in rehabilitation. They wrote a book about the experience .

Tears In The Jungle: A Children’s Adventure to Save the Orangutan is a way for readers to learn about the environment and understand how they can make a difference. Faced with their own challenges, the Clarke brothers tell the story of their trek through the jungles of Borneo to see orangutans and the people who are defending them.

The Clarke brothers have raised close to $1 million for orangutan conservation. They have sponsored more than 111,000 acres of orangutan habitat and they have helped adopt more than 100 orangutans. Money raised through book sales supports The Orangutan Project, Borneo Orangutan Survival Australia, and Orangutan Foundation International. These organizations focus on orangutan rescue, rehabilitation and release programs as well as habitat protection.

To learn more about the Clarke brothers and their remarkable mission to save orangutans and their critical habitat, please visit

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Gary Chandler is the CEO of Crossbow Communications. He is the author of 11 books about health and environmental issues from around the world. He also is the author of the Language and Travel Guide To Indonesia

Avatar Gary Chandler

Author: Gary Chandler

Author, Consultant. CEO of Crossbow Communications. Colorado native. Arizona transplant.

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