How Suffolk student is working to save endangered orang-utans

An orangutan mother and juvenile along the riverbank taken by Cameron in Borneo last summer Picture

An orangutan mother and juvenile along the riverbank taken by Cameron in Borneo last summer Picture: CAMERON GOODHEAD - Credit: CAMERON FAIRHEAD

A student from Suffolk is raising money to fund a research project to help save endangered orang-utans in Borneo.

An orangutan mother and juvenile along the riverbank taken by Cameron in Borneo last summer Picture

An orangutan mother and juvenile along the riverbank taken by Cameron in Borneo last summer Picture: CAMERON GOODHEAD - Credit: CAMERON FAIRHEAD

Former Framlingham College pupil Cameron Goodhead, whose family live in Helmingham, is hoping to assess orang-utan populations across the rainforest by using drones instead of doing the surveys on foot.

Cameron, who has dreamed of being a zoologist since he was a child, said the Bornean orang-utan has been declared a critically endangered species with the decline in numbers due to hunting, forest fires, and loss of habitat as a result of extreme levels of deforestation, mainly for palm oil plantations.

"To monitor the effect of these threats on populations and whether current conservation efforts are succeeding, it is vital to accurately assess populations of orang-utans across the rainforest," said Cameron.

"However, as orang-utans are rare, solitary animals, they can be difficult to find in the jungle, making monitoring them by counting individual orang-utans difficult!" he added.

An orangutan mother and juvenile along the riverbank taken by Cameron in Borneo last summer Picture

An orangutan mother and juvenile along the riverbank taken by Cameron in Borneo last summer Picture: CAMERON GOODHEAD - Credit: CAMERON FAIRHEAD


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Cameron's project will use drones as a replacement for surveys on foot to allow them to be undertaken much faster, across larger areas and at lower costs.

Cameron, 22, is a Masters by Research student at Exeter University, and for his third year dissertation he travelled to Borneo where he helped collect data on orang-utan nest building behaviour.

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During the trip he saw his first wild orang-utans and this has inspired him to do as much as possible to help save the species from extinction.

For his masters research project Cameron will be living in the jungle, together with two Indonesian field researchers, working day and night to study how effectively drones can be used to monitor orang-utan populations.

Money raised by Cameron, who returns to Suffolk each summer to work as a lifeguard at Southwold beach, will go towards the costs of the research, such as funding the purchasing of a drone and additional equipment such as spare batteries.

He will be covering the cost of travel, accommodation and personal supplies himself and plans to travel to Borneo next month.

To sponsor Cameron go to: https://exeter.hubbub.net/p/OrangutanDroneProject

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