TED2009 minutes from Ethan Zuckerman: Willie Smits is an orangutan hero

Posted by: Tedstaff

Willie Smits at TED 2009 Photo: James Duncan Davidson

Ethan Zuckerman has been liveblogging TED2009, sharing the experience in detail. Today he wrote about the talk delivered by Willie Smits, a conservationist passionately defending the habitat of orangutans in Borneo. The following is a snippet from Ethan’s blog:

“Smits tells us about seeing ‘the saddest eyes I’ve ever seen’ on the face of a baby orangutan in a cage in a Borneo market. Later that day, he found the animal, half dead, on a garbage heap – ‘of course, the cage had been salvaged.’ He nursed the orangutan back to life, and she lives in the sanctuary he maintains, with her children and grandchildren, some of the almost a thousand orangutan he cares for.”

Willie’s a true hero to these orangutans, and to everyone at TED as well.

Comments (3)

  • Tom Milks commented on Feb 8 2009

    Of all of the amazing TED speakers, this guy is potentially the most inspirational. He started out modestly describing his obligation to take care of the orangutans and, in his quest of saving them, he wound up changing an entire region and its people. And more than just that, his work even changed the weather pattern of a dying portion of this fragile earth! Talk about really making this earth a better place! Seeing real tangible results of his work in 3 years was truly remarkable. Willie Smits is a real live super hero!!!

  • Sebastian Mathews commented on Feb 7 2009

    an amazing accomplishment. it’s clear ethan’s greatest wish is that someone, anyone, will follow in his footsteps…

  • Laina Raveendran Greene commented on Feb 7 2009

    I think it was amazing that he was actually angry with people for clapping when he said he has saved 1,000 orangutans and he said, that is not enough. I was struck by his passion to help the cause than to take credit for what he has done so far.

    Then to top it all, I think he is an even greater hero for finding a very sustainable model to ensure successful reforestation! So ingenious to save the orangutans by saving the forest and by saving the livelihood of the local people(making them also benefit from profits too).

    I think, Willie Smitts, Nalini (tree climber) and William (the vertical farming) person should join forces to save our forests! Nalini has the tools for engaging the world, William bringing vertical farming as a better solution to solving the food issue and Wiilie Smits has a VERY PRACTICAL and sustainable model to ensure the forest be saved and continue to be kept safe!

    Bravo…we need more Willie Smitts in the world.