Saving Sumatran orangutans

Liz Nicholls

Health

Lucy Radford of Abingdon charity Sumatran Orangutan Society explains more about the plight of and how to help this majestic endangered creature.

On the Indonesian island of Sumatra, lush rainforests are home to orangutans, elephants, tigers and rhinos. Hornbills fly over the treetops and troops of monkeys leap from branch to branch. The air is alive with the buzzing, shrieking and singing of thousands of animals, from minuscule insects to jungle giants. The rainforest is an amazing place to be, and it is vital for species such as the Sumatran orangutan, which is critically endangered in the wild. Tragically, Indonesia has the fastest deforestation rate in the world, and the threats facing species like the orangutan are intensifying.

Thousands of miles away in Abingdon, the Sumatran Orangutan Society (SOS) works to reverse the fortunes of the orangutans, their forest homes, and the other animals living there. In collaboration with Indonesian NGOs, SOS takes a holistic approach to orangutan conservation. This means tackling the causes of deforestation, as well as trying to cure the symptoms.

Orangutan habitat is sometimes chipped away a few acres at a time by rural communities who grow crops where the forest used to be. In other cases, forests are cleared on an industrial scale. Of the crops grown on Sumatra, the most familiar to us in the UK is palm oil. Palm oil is found in a wide range of products, from cosmetics to chocolate bars, so the global demand is huge. Wildlife cannot survive in oil palm plantations – Sumatra has four times as much land cultivated with oil palms as there is habitat for orangutans.

Orangutans spend their lives in the trees, so protecting and restoring their forest habitat is crucial. SOS works with Indonesian non-Governmental organisations to protect Sumatra’s last forests and restore damaged ecosystems. The health and prosperity of the people of Sumatra are also linked to the fate of the forests, so SOS works closely with local communities to develop conservation projects including forest restoration, and sustainable livelihoods like organic farming that offer a real alternative to the destruction of forests. SOS also supports the only active orangutan rescue team in Sumatra. As well as evacuating orangutans from dangerous situations and releasing them into safe forests, they tackle the causes of human-orangutan conflict, providing training so rural communities can protect their crops without harming wildlife.

One of the simplest ways you can help is to become a voice for orangutans: follow SOS online and share their news. The choices you make when you shop can have a real impact – look out for sustainable palm oil on ingredients lists and check for the FSC symbol on anything derived from wood. You can also donate to support the work SOS is doing on the ground or set yourself a fundraising challenge to raise money and awareness.

 For more information visit www.orangutans-sos.org

Dancing: Witness the fitness

Round & About

Health

Strictly star Ian Waite’s life was changed by the joy of dance and you can channel the same benefits thanks to FitSteps…

Best-known now for his previous appearances on Strictly Come Dancing, and more recently on It Takes Two with Zoe Ball, Ian grew up on the Whitley estate in south Reading.

Following his parents’ divorce when he was ten, friends suggested his dad try ballroom dancing as there were many single ladies there. He enjoyed himself, and soon enrolled Ian and his younger brother. Ian always had a competitive streak in what he did in sports such as badminton, and this he brought to competitive dancing and a new world opened up for him leading to him winning the European Championship aged 17. Now aged 47, Ian says he feels as fit as he has felt all his life. He says: “Dance is not only good for improving your physical self but remembering all the steps and moves keeps the brain active as well.”

Ian can testify to the physical side after touring with Oti Mobuse last year, and touring with Vincent Simone as The Ballroom Boys later this year. A few years ago, he teamed up with his former Strictly dance partner, Natalie Loew and swimmer Mark Foster to create FitSteps.

This is a dance workout combining the graceful steps of ballroom with the up-tempo steps of Latin to create fun-filled classes for all ages and abilities. “It’s so much fun that you don’t realise you’re getting fit!” adds Ian. He has many tales of people who have lost huge amounts of weight, including one who has lost almost four stone.

There are FitSteps classes across the UK including classes in Oxfordshire run by the friendly Debs. For more about her classes, please email deborahjanedavies@hotmail.co.uk or contact her on 07968 948007.

The “Joy of Dance” is something that completely changed Ian Waite’s life. Best-known now for his previous appearances on Strictly Come Dancing, and more recently on It Takes Two with Zoe Ball, Ian grew up on the Whitley estate in South Reading. Following his parents divorcing when he was ten, friends suggested his Dad try ballroom dancing as there were many single ladies there. He enjoyed himself, and soon enrolled Ian and his younger brother.

Ian always had a competitive streak in what he did in sports such as badminton, and this he brought to competitive dancing and a new world opened-up for him leading to him winning the European Championship aged seventeen. Now aged forty-seven Ian says he feels as fit as he has felt all his life, as he says; “Dance is not only good for improving your physical self but remembering all the steps and moves keeps the brain active as well”. Ian can testify to the physical side after touring with Oti Mobuse last year, and touring with Vincent Simone as “The Ballroom Boys” later this year.

A few years ago, he teamed up with his former Strictly dance partner, Natalie Loew and swimmer Mark Foster to create FitSteps. This is a dance workout combining the graceful steps of Ballroom with the up-tempo steps of Latin to create fun-filled classes where you don’t realise you are getting fit, Ian tells of one person who lost between around four stone.

For more information please go to www.fitsteps.co.uk.

Winter aches & pains?

Round & About

Health

Pharmacist Kevin Leivers from The Naked Pharmacy explains how to find effective natural relief for joint and muscle inflammation this winter

As the temperature drops both athletes and elderly people alike notice their muscles and joints ache more and are slower to recover from injury.

There are a number of great natural remedies for these problems at The Naked Pharmacy. Two stand-out herbal products that can be applied regularly to aching muscles and joints are Arnica Massage Balm and Copper Ointment. Both are effective for reducing rheumatic pain in addition to improving circulation.

We also recommend supplementing your diet with high-strength tumeric capsules. This is a proven, natural and low-risk solution for a number of conditions including arthritis and sporting injuries. The therapeutic benefits of turmeric are produced by a class of compounds in turmeric called curcuminoids.

For the turmeric to be effective it must contain the correct strength; a minimum of 360mg curcuminoids in each capsule. Secondly, it needs to be formulated to enable the curcuminoid active compounds to be absorbed well in the gut.

On its own, only a small amount of the curcuminoids in turmeric are absorbed into the blood. Adding piperine (black pepper) resolves this issue. When piperine is mixed with turmeric, the total curcuminoid absorption increases significantly.

A turmeric extract that contains the highest strength of curcuminoids will be the most effective compared with extracts containing only curcumin.

For more advice visit The Naked Pharmacy or to speak to a pharmacist  call 01483 685630.