Critically endangered orangutans and sun bears have been given a second chance at life thanks to a new collaboration between TAFE NSW and Borneo Orangutan Survival Australia (BOSA).
Students studying a Certificate III and IV in Captive Animals at TAFE NSW Richmond recently embarked on a 10 day trip to the South East Asian island of Borneo to volunteer at the Orangutan Survival sanctuary, where they helped design and build enclosures to assist with animal rehabilitation.
With almost 1.15 million hectares of forest in Borneo lost each year between 2003 and 2007 to deforestation, paired with the rise of the illegal pet trade, research predicts that complete orangutan extinction in the wild is possible within the next 10 to 20 years.
Borneo Orangutan Survival provides rehabilitation and enrichment programs for animals in order to build their skills and strength for when they are released back into the wild. As part of the trip, TAFE NSW students helped build an island sanctuary dedicated to animals that are not fit for life in the wild, including orangutans with missing limbs, who are blind as a result of being shot, or have been electrocuted from hanging on to live wires.
Students installed swings, ropes and food enrichment equipment in the sanctuary to give the animals the best quality of life possible. They also donated up to 30kg of condemned fire hose from local fire brigades around Western Sydney, which they used to help build hammocks for the animals.
Tony Gilding, President of BOSA, said the collaboration with TAFE NSW was more important than ever to help educate the next generation of leaders in the captive animal industry.
“TAFE NSW students have had a unique hands on learning experience that has given them firsthand insight into conservation efforts happening across the globe to save critically endangered species,” Mr Gilding said.
“It is the first collaboration of its kind BOSA has had with a training provider, which proved to be an invaluable and transformational experience for TAFE NSW students and the animals they are helping to save.”
Marsden Park resident and TAFE NSW student Cameron Taylor, 30, studied a Certificate III in Captive Animals and described the trip as a “life changing experience” that has helped his career switch from an electrician to working with animals at the new Sydney Zoo.
“As a primate keeper at Sydney Zoo, I am lucky enough to work with orangutans every day, so the trip to Borneo afforded me the opportunity to see the global conservation efforts that are in place to protect the species and experience the very real problem of human encroachment and deforestation first hand.”
“The experience has helped shape my career because I’ve been able to explore the different jobs that exist in the industry in the area of conservation and animal rehabilitation.”
TAFE NSW Head Teacher in Animal Care, Rebecca Coventry, said: “The trip to Borneo was a real-world experience for students made possible through the international connections TAFE NSW maintains with various industries.
“These are the types of scenarios students will face in a career in animal care and TAFE NSW is ensuring that students are equipped with the job ready skills that employers are looking for.”
For more information on the Captive Animal courses offered at TAFE NSW, visit www.tafensw.edu.au, or call 131 601.
Media contact: Jessica Cortis, Media and Communications Business Partner, 0456 170 211.