True Jungleheroes

These are true jungleheroes who have dedicated their lives to helping the rainforest. These jungleheroes inspire me to help the orangutans, so I hope they will inspire you too. If you have done something that makes you a junglehero, please let me know. I would love to hear about your actions to help the rainforest.


My name is Gigi Finn and I am 8 years old. I wasn’t very intrigued at first when I heard about palm oil, but a year later a reminder must have flashed inside my head because now I am crazy about saving the orangutans!! I created a presentation which I showed to my class talking about orangutans and how they were endangered by palm oil plantations. I check every single thing in the store to see if it contains palm oil and I never miss a chance to tell people about it. I am starting a blog called, “The Orangutan Gang” where there is a pledge for people to sign to become “Orangutarians.” Orangutarians avoid and boycott products with palm oil and spread the news about the destruction of the rainforest. I am proud to be Jungle Hero!!!

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In Indonesia, it’s been illegal to harm or kill orangutans since 1931, but despite this, about 50% of the Indonesian people don’t know that the orangutans are legally protected. Conservationist, Dr. Willie Smits has developed a systematic plan with local Indonesian people to replant rainforest, and create orangutan sanctuaries. In three years he’s employed 1,000 people, attracted hundreds of species, and changed the climate in the area. The orangutans have a safe place, and the locals become educated about the problem.

“Rudi Putra, a biologist who works in Sumatra’s Aceh Province, was on Monday honored with the $175,000 Goldman Environmental Prize.” He organizes teams to manually cut down illegal palm oil plantations, and has already seen regrowth to rainforest in the restored areas. He also created a petition to protect rainforest in Aceh, Indonesia, and to ask the Indonesian government to enforce conservation laws that got over 1.4 million signatures from around the world. Read more here.

asking the Indonesian government to enforce conservation laws and reject Aceh’s proposal.
asking the Indonesian government to enforce conservation laws and reject Aceh’s proposal.


As local Bornean people say, “The orangutans need the rainforest, the rainforest needs the orangutans, and the orangutans need us to help protect them.” Umar has dedicated his life to helping the rainforest and the orangutans. He lives at Camp Leakey, the oldest orangutan center in the world. He releases rescued orangutans back into the wild. When he releases an orangutan into the rainforest, he says “they come back to life.”


This is Ledan. Thirty years ago when he came here, the rainforest had been repeatedly burned to scare the animals out, making for easy hunting. The once-majestic rainforest had become a charred and desolate wasteland. Ledan has dedicated himself to re foresting this reserve and now, there are orangutans living in the young rainforest around his home. He says, “I bring the tree’s children here to grow and help the forest.” He has proved that it is possible to re-forest devastated land. He told me that “if we can stop the palm oil plantations we can replace the forest.”


Born and raised in the countryside of Orangeburg, South Carolina, Takako grew up with a passion for nature and from a young age took on various environmental activities like starting a recycling program, an environmental group, and becoming a vegetarian (because taking action in our daily diet is one of the most environmentally friendly things we can do). Takako visited the rainforests of Costa Rica in high school, then a few years later, went to Borneo to see the wild Orangutangs and rainforests of SE Asia. She was impressed with the depth and age of the forests, but more mind-boggling was the amount of oil palm plantations that covered the landscape. It was sad to know that as they drove past the plantations, that it was all habitat that used to be primary rainforest. These plantations were so vast, even after driving for hours, all they could see were mono-cultures of palm oil plantations. Falling in love with rainforests, she has traveled to Brazil’s Manaus to see the rainforests there, where palm oil is also a cash crop. She made her love for nature her job, literally, by working for the US Fish and Wildlife Service for 12 years. She worked at 5 different National Wildlife Refuges in different areas of Florida as a Refuge Operations Specialist and was amazed at the diversity of habitats and animals that live in the Jungles of Florida!

With her international travels, she felt a strong commitment to international conservation efforts. In 1997, she helped launch a student group at Clemson University where Tigers are the mascot, called “Tigers for Tigers.” In 2006 she went to India to see eye to eye with wild tigers, which stirred in her a life-long challenge to help save wild tigers. In 2013, the Clemson students organized a National Coalition of tiger mascot schools across the USA.

College students, alumni and Tiger fans, have come together to raise awareness of the endangered Tigers and their habitats. The National Tigers for Tigers Coalition is looking for more members to join their organization.

Even though she now lives in Tokyo, Japan, she is still working hard to save jungles all over Asia with her passion for wildlife conservation. She stays active as a consultant for Tiger Trust in India, who offers legal training to Forest Department frontline staff and educational programs, especially with Tigers for Tigers in the USA. Takako conducts environmental awareness talks in Japan, and is hopeful that with awareness and a strong desire to take action, people will be able to wake up to the destruction of their natural ecosystems and restore what can be, before it’s too late. She encourages young people everywhere not to be overwhelmed, but to use their voice to speak up for the animals and plants, because they have none. For every animal and plant species we lose, our planet becomes more unstable, so we must stop it before it’s too late.

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