NEW YORK, Feb. 21, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Leif Cocks, President and Founder of The Orangutan Project (TOP), recently received the Medal of the Order of Australia, one of the country's highest honors, for his heroic work protecting critically endangered orangutans and the forests that sustain them.
In the Australian honors system, the Medal of the Order of Australia confers recognition for outstanding achievement and service. The medal is traditionally awarded on Australia Day on Jan. 26.
"I am both humbled and honored to be included in this distinguished order," Cocks said. "I am grateful to those who have given of themselves to help protect orangutans from extinction. Orangutans are deep thinking, highly sentient creatures. They and the forests they call home are integral to the biodiversity and protection of our planet.
"To have the importance of our mission recognized is encouraging, but it is also bittersweet, because right now the destruction of orangutan habitat continues unabated and the species is being driven to extinction in the wild. We must work urgently to safeguard viable populations of orangutans in their natural habitat, and we've got to make sure that habitat is legally protected for the decades to come."
Cocks established The Orangutan Project in 1998 and has now been working directly with orangutans for more than 30 years. The world's foremost orangutan expert, Cocks is also the author of several books and academic papers on the subject of orangutan conservation and a tireless champion for the endangered great apes.
"We've got about another 10 years to be able to protect and piece together viable ecosystems that will survive," Cocks said. "After that, we may have some rainforests, we may have some orangutans, but it won't be sustainable anymore — it will collapse."
Since 1998, The Orangutan Project has contributed more than $14 million directly into orangutan conservation. The organization has earned a reputation amongst its partners and donors for being financially responsible and transparent, and for establishing an holistic approach to orangutan conservation that encompasses legally protecting forests; securing, restoring and patrolling forests; rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing ex-captive orangutans; and educating and empowering local communities and indigenous people.
For more about TOP, visit https://www.theorangutanproject.org
About The Orangutan Project
The Orangutan Project is a non-partisan organization that collaborates with several orangutan conservation projects on the ground in Indonesia to support the conservation and rehabilitation of orangutans and the preservation of their forest habitat. Founded by world-renowned orangutan expert Leif Cocks, The Orangutan Project's goal is to ensure the survival of the orangutan species in their natural habitat. For more information, visit https://www.theorangutanproject.org
SOURCE The Orangutan Project