UWS student’s fight to save orang-utans

DURAL resident Ben Dessen got his first pet snake when he was six, an act that sparked a passion for animals and conservation.

That devotion has seen him raise $20,000 for wildlife conservation, work for Sydney Wildlife and win a $50,000 scholarship to study natural science with the University of Western Sydney.

In 2008, he went to Borneo to see first hand how palm oil deforestation is killing native orang-utans and possibly leading to the ape’s extinction.

“I witnessed how the way of life of developed countries has fuelled the deforestation in Borneo,” Dessen, 19, said.

“As a result, we [the world] are facing one of the biggest catastrophes of our time: the extinction of the orang-utans, one of our closest living relatives.”

Dessen, who works at Kellyville Pets, made a two-minute video to participate in the Deforestaction conservation project in Borneo.

Ten young people with the most votes for their video will be chosen to spend five months in Borneo to work with research, rehabilitation of orang-utans and building facilities to support the work local conservationists are doing.

The former Northholm Grammar student has been involved with the rehabilitation of many wildlife species in his local area and feels this is an opportunity to take his passion to a global level.

“It breaks my heart to think we may lose such amazing creatures and without our help I believe they won’t have a chance,” he said.

“It is this project, this moment that can make a difference and make a positive change.”

Schools and other students can support the project through direct contact with the 10 young people who will go to Borneo in June, through online blogs and videos.

Watch Ben’s video on gg.tigweb.org/tig/deforestaction/ 52647/. For details on how to vote, contact Ben Dessen on Facebook.

Schools interested in signing up with Deforestaction can do so at deforestaction.com.