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Itchy idea for orangutans

An animal care lecturer channelled his inner ape to help raise awareness of the dangers facing the global orang-utan population.

Ant Finch with his own orang-utan

MidKent College conservationist Ant Finch, 39, who works at the Medway Campus, grew a beard for the month of Ape-ril – a charity initiative in aid of the Sumatran Orang-utan Society (SOS).

He aims to raise as much money as possible for the organisation, which seeks to identify local, national and international solutions to the root causes of deforestation.

Ant said: “The story of Sumatra is one of the worst there is in terms of conservation. Virtually all of the rainforests have disappeared, meaning a severe loss of habitat for orang-utans as well as many other plants and animals.

“There are some really significant animals that could go extinct in our lifetime. How bad would it be if all the orang-utans disappeared?

“The situation isn’t going to get any better but charities like SOS aim to stop it getting worse.”

The Sumatran orang-utan is classified as critically endangered, with only about 6,600 remaining in the wild.

Conservation experts suggest they could be the first species of great ape to become extinct due to habitat loss and the illegal pet trade.

“The conservation of our planet is one of the most important things my students can learn about,” said Ant.

“Every single species is important – whether it’s an orang-utan or a cockroach – but they’re going extinct thousands of times more quickly than they would naturally, and it’s all down to human behaviour.

“I teach animal management but you can’t have animals without the right environments for them to thrive in.”

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