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Ein freilebender Orang-Utan in Indonesien, Bild: Petr Klabal / shutterstock

Setting an example – the protection of orangutans concerns us all

In Malay, orangutan means “forest man” – an apt name for the orange shaggy fur animals of Indonesia. Hardly any animal is as similar to us as the clever apes. They are the thinkers of the jungle and the largest animals living on trees. They use self-made tools, they kiss each other and they lovingly take care of their offspring. And: They are extremely threatened!

Due to a dramatic development, an overwhelming project was created: Many responsible people, Benni Over, probably the best friend of the forest people, and “Henry saves the rainforest” give hope and appeal to human reason.

If the rainforest dies, then the orangutan dies too!

In the wild, orangutans live worldwide only on the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Borneo. In recent years, countless palm oil plantations have sprung up on the islands. The animals are robbed of their habitat. The bitter result: orangutans are endangered and threatened with extinction. The orangutans play an important role in the rainforest. Based on their food selection and subsequent excretion, they ensure the continued existence of healthy forests. These forests produce the oxygen that the world so desperately needs in times of climate change. Due to the destruction of the rainforest, the great apes are displaced and banished. They often starve to death in search of food. About 54,000 animals are highly endangered in Borneo .

An unforgettable encounter

Great apes are intelligent, that is no longer a secret. Researchers have found that when orangutans are not painting pictures, they practice speaking or imitate human sounds.

There are countless wonderful experiences with the red shaggy animals. It is a privilege to observe the animals at close range. For a brief moment – very close to an orangutan: a massive patriarch snuggles up to a tree trunk as if it were his sofa. Next to it, the teenager sits, emphatically bored, his head resting on his arm. However, he guards his surroundings from his branch with alert eyes. Meanwhile, a friend of the teenager makes himself big and sticks out his chest. Clever: He lingers in this posture until the guides give him a piece of melon. Not far away, the little orangutan child with fluffy hair steals his mother’s banana and catches one for this impudence. Each of these animals has its own personality. A look into the deep brown eyes looks incredibly familiar. In a world without bars and fences, in great peace, humans and animals obviously feel a deep connection. A fleeting touch feels like a small miracle. Orangutans are simply human.

On the one hand, this wonderful encounter, on the other hand, the dramatic development: the habitat of the great apes is becoming increasingly narrow. Many animals have already fallen victim to the saw or fire. This is also worrying: Orangutans are strictly protected in Borneo. Nevertheless, they often sit in cramped cages, frightened and imprisoned – trapped by poachers. It is a sad sight that often presents itself to the police and gamekeepers. Irresponsible people offer the great apes for sale for the equivalent of 250 euros.

It’s time – time for a change!

Benni Over
One-year-old Mona on Bennis’ lap, picture: Klaus Over

It is very important to me to report on Benni Over and his great orangutan project at this point. His mission is enlightenment!

Benni Over from Rhineland-Palatinate is probably the best friend of our red brothers in Indonesia“>Indonesia.

And then there is “Henry”, the little orangutan, who has bad nightmares. Depressing experiences become present in his dreams. Desperately, Henry searches for his mother and finally finds her motionless on the floor. ‘When he wakes up, his surrogate mother, Mary, gently strokes his head. Mary accompanies orphaned apes in a camp. It is difficult for her to answer Henry’s recurring question: “Why are our moms killed”?

Benni Over Orangutan
Benni is curiously sniffed by orangutan cub Boy, Picture: Klaus Over

Henry is the little orangutan, invented by Benni Over, probably the person with the biggest heart for the red-haired forest people. On 34 colourfully designed pages, his character (Henry) goes through many stations that make you sad, make you think and at the same time make you concerned. Readers follow this journey with excitement. Henry can’t believe it: people are cutting down the rainforest to create palm oil plantations. He learns that many animals have been deprived of their dwelling, that they are simply killed or kept as pets. The habitat of the lovable animals is visibly dwindling. It’s time to do something. Finally, Henry meets the Pope, the German Chancellor, the President of the USA and, last but not least, the Dalai Lama. The most famous people in the world occupy an important place in the project.

Saving the rainforest
The picture book “Henry saves the rainforest”
can be obtained from Papierfresserchens MTM-Verlag, bookstores or Amazon, ISBN: 978-3-86196-673-9

The motto on the back of the book cover is: “A movement must get going”. For someone who has only been able to move his fingers for several years, this is not an easy thing. Benni Over, now 28, suffers from muscle atrophy (DMD) and has been in a wheelchair since he was 10 years old. He also suffered a cardiac arrest in December 2016. After a life-saving tracheotomy, he is mainly ventilated by a machine. Despite his limited resources and handicaps, he is committed to the red-haired forest people with all his strength. He was named “Ambassador for Orangutans” by the local organizations. He is always accompanied by his father, who supports the project extensively and also with great passion.

This is particularly close to Benni Over’s heart

The fact that the extraction of palm oil kills life is based on our culinary delights. Living creatures lose their homes – orangutans die. The fatal thing is that the demand for palm oil is increasing.

Benni Over sends an appeal to people and hopes for a rethink in consumer behavior. When buying, you should pay attention to what is in the food. The consumer has the power to shape supply through demand.

  In a wheelchair to the orangutans
Christina Schott – In a Wheelchair to the Orangutans can be obtained from the publisher, bookstore or Amazon, ISBN: 978-3-86196-760-6

The adventure takes its course. Despite his illness, Benni Over is touring Germany. He is a popular guest at the schools. The arc of suspense rises when he reports in kindergartens and public institutions about the palm oil industry, the rainforest and, above all, about the life of orangutans. It is his mission and he pursues it with admirable strength. Benni Over receives literary support from the German journalist, Christina Schott, who lives in Indonesia>Indonesia . With her travel and non-fiction book “Im Rollstuhl zu den Oran-Utans” (In a wheelchair to the orangutans), she addresses young people, parents and teachers.

It should be the concern of all of us to support Benni Over’s project.

It is worth taking a look at http://bildungsblogs.net/wp/henry-regenwald/, and it is worth rethinking, as long as you do not already know how to bear responsibility.

The story of Henry, who grows up to be a strong male orangutan, touches and gives hope.

A big thank you goes to Benni Over, who is so wonderfully committed to the charming shaggy animals, which have so much in common with us humans.