Helping orangutans

Dear Editor:

On behalf of myself and International Animal Rescue, I wanted to take the opportunity to thank the local women, artisans and businesses who have contributed to the Rain Forest Jewelry Collection, either through donating jewelry, appraising jewelry, and offering me opportunities to sell the jewelry as a vendor at markets and festivals.

I can’t begin to convey how much your compassion and support has meant to me; none of what I had set out to accomplish would have been possible without each and every one of you.

Four years ago, as I rummaged through my own jumbled collection of unworn jewelry, an idea came to mind and the Rain Forest Jewelry Collection was curated. I hoped that I might reach other women who would be willing to part ways with jewelry they no longer wanted, all in an effort to support the vital rescue and rehabilitation work that International Animal Rescue is doing in West Kalimantan Borneo to save the critically endangered orangutan and it’s rainforest habitat.

Clearing land to make way for palm oil plantations has resulted in mass deforestation in Indonesia and Malaysia, where more than 80 per cent of the world’s palm oil is produced. This has destroyed the natural habitat of animals, including orangutans, tigers, rhinos and elephants, pushing many to the brink of extinction.

This forest clearance has also resulted in large volumes of greenhouse gas emissions; the clearing of these rain forests is one of the leading causes of climate change and is destroying some of the most biodiverse places on Earth, including the home of the iconic orangutan, one of our closest cousins.

We need to see and understand what is happening to our planet and it’s most vulnerable species and acknowledge our integral role and responsibility as consumers.

It has been so very moving and inspiring to meet women who were willing to get involved; I love that this feels like such a feminine initiative, women coming together to help save our planet, “Mother Earth,” and her most vulnerable.

I continue to collect jewelry and am always looking for opportunities to sell the jewelry and share the story of the critically endangered orangutan.

Please feel free to reach out to me if you would like to know more or think you might be able to help in some way (

Patricia “Patty” Cuthbert,