Dr Ian Singleton receives well deserved OBE in the Queen’s 2020 Birthday Honours List

Indonesia, October 10th, 2020: We are delighted to announce that our very own Director of the SOCP, Dr Ian Singleton, is to be recognised as an «Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire» or OBE, for his Services to the Environment and Conservation, as announced earlier today with the publication of this years Queen’s Birthday Honours List. This highly esteemed award is in recognition of Ian’s more than 30 years of work and dedication to the protection of orangutans, and their habitat in Indonesia.

Ian-Jantho - ©Kike Arnal - Arcus Foundation
DR. Ian Singleton, ‘OBE’, In the forests of the SOCP’s Jantho Orangutan Reintroduction Centre in Aceh © Kike Arnal / ARCUS Foundation

"I am extremely honoured, and very proud, that all of our hard work over the years has been recognised, but it hasn’t been the work of any one individual, or organisation. This award is recognition for the entire team of dedicated conservationists, most of them Indonesian, that I have had the pleasure and honour to work with throughout my career, and our many colleagues within the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry’s own Conservation Department", Singleton emphasises.

In addition, the primatologist says: "The work also remains unfinished. There are still many orangutans in Sumatra being kept illegally as pets, or trapped and isolated in fragmented forest patches. We need to get these individuals back to safe and protected rainforests again, where they can contribute to the future of their species. We are releasing these ’refugees’ to create new, genetically viable populations of orangutans. These populations act as a ’safety net’ or ’backup’, should a catastrophe befall the remaining truly wild populations".

The value of these new wild populations has never been more evident. The Scientific consensus is that orangutans and the other great apes should be just as susceptible to infection by the coronavirus as humans are. We are therefore very much on the front line of the coronavirus pandemic, only having to try and protect THREE Great Ape species, not only one!

With these facts in mind, this award by Queen Elizabeth II is an impressive reminder of how urgent the situation is for Critically Endangered species like the orangutans, and underlines the importance of protecting our own habitat too, for our own survival.

Twice a year, Queen Elizabeth II honours British citizens with Orders of Merit like Dr Singleton’s new OBE. The awards are given regularly on New Year’s Day and in June, on her official birthday. This year the British royal family postponed the award to October 10 due to the corona pandemic, so that some of those battling the current corona virus pandemic can also be included.

Ian at Suaq Balimbing Peat Swamp 1998
Dr Ian Singleton, ‘OBE’, back in 1998 whilst conducting field research for his PhD thesis in the peat swamp forests of Suaq Balimbing, Aceh Province © Ian Singleton.

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