Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Aussie Girl's Ape Mission in Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: Eight-year-old Jessica Crow had a great time when holidaying in Sabah recently.

She spent one glorious week with her parents, Julian and Susan Crow, and an elder sister Hayley, 11, and now the delighted Aussie girl wants to repay the favour.

Jessica has launched a campaign to raise funds to look after two-year-old Naru, one of the orangutans they met at the Sepilok Otangutan Rehabilitation Sanctuary in Sandakan.

She is currently running the fundraising campaign at her school and among Brownie members.

This Melbourne family earned the free one-week holiday in Sabah, sponsored by the Melbourne Zoo to promote its Twilight Programme, after winning a competition.

Susan in an email said Jessica was going all out to help the young ape.

She said organisations could also join this worthy effort by having their own campaigns to help the orangutans which are estimated to number between 10,000 and 20,000 in the wild.

Susan also gave a detailed account of the family’s adventure from visiting the city’s local markets to taking the tree-top canopy walk.

At Sepilok, they were shown a video and talked at length with one of the helpers.

“We really appreciate the highly dedicated job they are doing at the centre (Sepilok).

“Taking 10 to 15 years to rehabilitate the orangutans before sending them back to the wild is a labour of love...it requires substantial and constant funding,” she said.

The Aussie family also visited Sukau where they had a close encounter with a herd of grazing elephants.

The Crows originally from Britain, are all ``dedicated animal and nature lovers’’ and when they were told they won the free trip to the ‘Land Below The Wind’, they were over the moon.

“It was like winning the lottery. Initial disbelief was followed by mild hysteria — that we were going on this dream trip, especially when we are all great lovers of flora and fauna and we love to travel,’’ said Julian.

After Julian had qualified as a quantity surveyor in UK, he and his wife headed out to Ndola in Zambia in 1989 to work.

Their love for outdoor life and interest in wildlife grew after eight years of being close to the African bush and numerous weekend camping trips.

While they were in Zambia, Hayley arrived “all red and squiggly” and she quickly grew up as a "bush baby".

After the Crows moved to Swaziland, Jessica was born.

"With easy access to Swaziland’s nature reserves and South Africa’s game parks, both our girls began to love the wild and any animal that they came in contact with,’’ Julian said.

Courtesy of New Sabah Times

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