It’s thanks to people like Leif Cocks that orangutans have a public presence and their stories are being told. Pictures of orangutans feature in homes and schools across the globe, adopted by people who care, because Leif started a project that got a whole lot of people thinking.
In his book, Orangutans My Cousins, My Friends, Leif invites us on his journey with our orange cousins. His voice conveys the genuine emotion he feels for orangutans and the massive bank of knowledge he’s amassed during the past 30 years of working with them. He details how he founded The Orangutan Project, how it works, and about the enormous tasks that TOP and all other charities and not for profits have in trying to stave off extinction.
Divided into bite-sized portions with handy sub headings and peppered with thoughtful quotes, the book allows you to read at a galloping pace while still being able to skip back and forth between sections. I found myself returning to some parts repeatedly to make sure I understood the content, pausing to absorb the enormity of the content, then quickly being drawn back in to see where the story went next.
The book is part memoir, flowing chronologically from his early childhood and detailing the influences that lead him to becoming the advocate he is today. There’s a lot of science in there, but it’s delivered in a way that creates both impact and insight. Then there are the big questions, the meaning of life questions, because if we are to truly be custodians of this planet then we must take responsibility for it.
But mostly he talks about the orangutans. Their stories of survival, captivity, connection and love – the individuals who’ve signposted his journey to understand and save their kind. There are also photos – some beautiful shots of Leif and his orangutan friends, and some sobering ones of the challenges facing them.
You don’t have to be an environmentalist to read this book, nor do you need a thesaurus on standby. You just need a to have an interest in the outside world and an awareness of the bigger picture.
By the end of the book Leif calls on you to join him in helping the orangutans. We can all do something to help, the question is will you?
Orangutans My Cousins, My Friends
By Leif Cocks
Published by The Orangutan Project
RRP: $29 (100% of profits go towards helping orangutans)
Click here to order a copy.